TechJames Webb Telescope unveils staggering new view of Uranus, dubbed as a "portal to another dimension"

James Webb Telescope unveils staggering new view of Uranus, dubbed as a "portal to another dimension"

"Uranus through the Webb telescope"
"Uranus through the Webb telescope"
Images source: © NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI

12:44 AM EST, January 21, 2024

The most detailed picture of Uranus was provided by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) just before the end of 2023. The icy planet is so extraordinary it's been compared to a portal to another dimension by Engadget.

A Remarkable View of Uranus through the JWST Lens

The unique appearance of the picture is attributed to the telescope's capability of capturing light in the infrared spectrum. Thus, it picked up wavelengths that the camera of the Voyager 2 probe missed in the 80s, and that future space explorers wouldn't be able to detect with the naked eye. Specifically, the image utilized four NIRCam filters: blue F140M, cyan F210M, yellow F300M, and orange F460M. These numbers denote the wavelength - for instance, F140M refers to a wave with a length of 1.4 microns.

The image taken by the JWST highlights the planet in all its majesty, including the rings that encircle it. This stretches to the faint and scattered ring called the elusive Zeta ring. In addition, it vividly showcases the polar cap at the north pole and fourtenn out of the twenty-seven moons that orbit Uranus - namely Oberon, Titania, Umbriel, Juliet, Perdita, Rosalind, Puck, Belinda, Desdemona, Cressida, Ariel, Miranda, Bianca, and Portia.

  • Uran through JWST's eye - close-up
  • Uran through JWST's eye - what can be seen in the photo?
[1/2] Uran through JWST's eye - close-upImages source: © NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI

A Chance to Marvel and Comprehend

Astronomers have high hopes for the James Webb Space Telescope, anticipating that its photographs will broaden our understanding of many celestial bodies, including Uranus and the aforementioned Zeta ring. Studying its characteristics could, in turn, enhance our knowledge of exoplanets in other systems that resemble Uranus.

The image captured when the Voyager 2 probe traversed the blue-green giant in 1986 depicted a somewhat banal Uranus. The new image, however, discloses a substantial amount of activity on the planet and its surroundings. A forthcoming exploration mission promises to offer more insights, but planetologists are still awaiting approval from NASA.

Related content