The James Webb Space Telescope has caught the gas giant Saturn in astonishing clarity as astronomers guided the telescope for its first near-infrared studies of the planet.

The Webb team has transmitted and analysed the photograph, which was captured on June 25. Researchers have already been intrigued by the early images captured by Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam).The gas giant is dark in the most recent image taken by Webb, but its icy rings are glowing brightly.Infrared light, which Webb used to take this image, makes the planet appear dark because methane in the atmosphere absorbs sunlight. The frosty rings are still clearly illuminated, though.

“This image was taken as part of Webb Guaranteed Time Observation program 1247, which included several deep exposures of Saturn. These exposures were designed to test the telescope’s ability to detect faint moons around the planet and its bright rings,” stated Nasa in a blog update.

Categorized in: