The most recent pictures from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope show the clearest sight of Uranus in all its glory with its glowing rings and its 27 moons, furthering astrophysicists’ knowledge of the universe.
“Ice giant-like planets are some of the most common ones out there,” explains Bethany Ehlmann, a planetary scientist at Caltech. “We have two in our cosmic neighborhood in our solar system, and it’s high time we check them out.”
The first images were taken by the Voyager 2 probe when it passed by in 1986, adding ten more natural satellites to Uranus’s five largest ice moons discovered between 1787 and 1948 by individual astronomers. Since then, the Hubble Space Telescope and ground-based observations completed the moon toll. Webb’s infrared view showed Uranus’s dynamic nature with storms, rings, moons, and a glowing polar ice cap. As Uranus orbits on its side – its axial tilt is about 98 degrees – seasons are extreme and last 21 years. In 2028, the polar cap will face the sun head-on, and astronomers will be on the lookout for a stunning view.