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“We have never seen Jupiter like this! “: Unpublished images taken by the James-Webb telescope

We recently celebrated the 45th anniversary of the Voyager probes who notably provided us with already spectacular images of Jupiter and its moons. In the early 1990s, Jupiter could also be observed with ground-based instruments, such as theInfrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) and of course Hubble in space to obtain close-up images of Jupiter such as those obtained during the impact of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9.

It’s been the turn of the James Webb Space Telescope to delight us with images of Jupiter that it takes in the realm ofinfrared and that image processing techniques allow us to see translated into false colors.

We can convince ourselves of this with the latest images put online by NASA and theESA and which relate to observations of Jupiter in infrared on July 27, 2022 as part of a demonstration program Early Science co-led by a astrophysicist from the Paris Observatory – PSL, Thierry Fouchet, working at Lesia (Laboratory for space studies and instrumentation in astrophysics).

Comments from this astrophysicist as well as from the other director of the program can be found on the Paris Observatory – PSL website. Early Science, the famous planetary scientist Imke de Pater, professor emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley. She is known as well for leading the team using the telescope Keck having imaged the impact of the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with Jupiter, only for his introductory treatise on planetology with his colleague Jack J. Lissauer.

“We have never seen Jupiter like this! »

Thus for the planetologist: “ We have never seen Jupiter like this. It’s all pretty amazing. We didn’t really expect such a good picture, to be honest. It is truly remarkable that we can see details of Jupiter along with its rings, tiny satellites and even galaxies in a single image. She adds : Although we have already observed many of the features of Jupiter, the access to infrared offered by JWST opens up a new perspective. The combination of images and spectra at near and mid-infrared wavelengths will allow us to study the interaction between the dynamics ofatmospherethe chemical composition and the vertical temperature structure in and above the big red spot and in the auroral regions. »

Still on the Lesia website, we find the following comment from Thierry Fouchet regarding the image above: This image illustrates the sensitivity and dynamic range of the instrument NIR Cam of the JWST. She reveals the wavesthem whirlwinds and the bright vortices of Jupiter’s atmosphere and simultaneously provides a picture of the dark ring system, a million times fainter than the planet, as well as the moons Amalthea and Adrastea, which are about 200 and 20 kilometers in diameter respectively. . This image alone illustrates the scientific objectives of our program Jovianwho study the dynamics and chemistry of the planet itself, its rings and its system of satellites. »

And now Jupiter in the eyes of the James-Webb Space Telescope

Article of Xavier Demeersmann published on 07/18/2022

The James-Webb Space Telescope didn’t just probe celestial objects millions or billions awaylight yearshe also pointed his big mirror on Jupiter and its potentially habitable moon, Europa. Here too, the result exceeds the expectations of the astronomers.

The first images of James-Webb unveiled on July 12, and effectively inaugurating the scientific campaign of the largest and most powerful space telescope ever launched, amazed us over their discoveries on Tuesday. There’s so much to say about each of them, from the farthest reaches ofUniverse revisited – the deepest image of the Universe ever obtained » -, to the planetary nebula from the southern ring, passing through a nebula with its staggering “reliefs” of detail, and not to mention the intertwined galaxies of Stefan’s Quintet, where one can even see stars individual… In short, already iconic images. An impressive leap forward in the details obtained thanks to its instruments for cosmic objects distant from several tens of thousands of light-years… to several billion light-years. And “this is just the beginning! » (this is only the beginning), repeated the astrophysicists who participated in their live presentations by NASA.

And now, Jupiter!

Another surprise and beauty registered on July 12 in the Mikulski archives of the STSI (Space Telescope Science Institute) as part of the James-Webb commissioning, a familiar and nearby object: Jupiter. Astronomers are delighted and do not hide their admiration for the quality of the images and data obtained.

Curious to see what it would be like to observe such a close and brilliant celestial body, they were not disappointed: these portraits of the largest planet in the Solar system indeed reveal its very discreet rings (image of NIRCam), the moon Europe and the small Metis and Thebes. “The images of Jupiter in the narrowband filters were designed to provide beautiful images of the entire disk of the planet, but the wealth of additional information about very faint objects (Métis, Thebes, the main ring, them mists) in these images taken with about a minute of exposure was a very pleasant surprise”says John Stansberry, who takes care of the NIRCam instrument.

As it concerns Europeone of the four Galilean satellites of Jupiter (visible in binoculars), we can also see its shadow projected on Jupiter, just to the left of the famous Great Red Spot. This potentially habitable satellite which shelters a global ocean under a thick crust of ice will be a privileged target for astronomers who hope to scrutinize and study its water vapor plumes with the space telescope. “I think that’s just one of the coolest things we’ll be able to do with this telescope in the solar system.”says Stefanie Milam, researcher in planetary sciences at the GSFC (Goddard Space Flight Center) from NASA.

James Webb has not finished surprising us and the scientific images of the Universe will rain down for our greatest pleasure, showing us structures and objects that we had never seen before.

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