Uranus Close-up (NIRCam image)

 Uranus Close-up (NIRCam image)

This image of Uranus from NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera) on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope shows the planet and its rings in new clarity. The Webb image exquisitely captures Uranus’s seasonal north polar cap, including the bright, white, inner cap and the dark lane in the bottom of the polar cap. Uranus’ dim inner and outer rings are also visible in this image, including the elusive Zeta ring—the extremely faint and diffuse ring closest to the planet.

This Webb image also shows 9 of the planet’s 27 moons. They are the blue dots that surround the planet’s rings. Clockwise starting at 2 o’clock, they are: Rosalind, Puck, Belinda, Desdemona, Cressida, Bianca, Portia, Juliet, and Perdita. The orbits of these moons share the 98-degree tilt of their parent planet relative to the plane of the solar system.

One day on Uranus is about 17 hours, so the planet’s rotation is relatively quick. This makes it supremely difficult for observatories with a sharp eye like Webb to capture one simple image of the entire planet – storms and other atmospheric features, and the planet’s moons, move visibly within minutes. This image combines several longer and shorter exposures of this dynamic system to correct for those slight changes throughout the observing time.




About The Object
Object Name Uranus
Object Description Planet
About The Data
Data Description This image was created from JWST data from proposal: (K. Pontoppidan)
Instrument NIRCam
Exposure Dates 04 September 2023
Filters F140M, F210M, F300M, F460M
About The Image
Color Info These images are a composite of separate exposures acquired by the James Webb Space Telescope using the NIRCam instrument. Several filters were used to sample medium wavelength ranges. The color results from assigning different hues (colors) to each monochromatic (grayscale) image associated with an individual filter. In this case, the assigned colors are:   Blue: F140M, Cyan: F210M, Yellow: F300M, Orange: F460M
Compass Image The planet Uranus on a black background. The planet appears blue with a large, white patch taking up the right half. The patch is whitest at the center, then fades into blue at it expands from right to left. A thin outline of Uranus is also white. Around the planet is a system of nested rings. The outermost ring is the brightest while the innermost ring is the faintest. Unlike Saturn’s horizontal rings, the rings of Uranus are vertical and so they appear to surround the planet in an oval shape. There are 9 blueish white dots scattered around the rings.
About The Object
Object Name A name or catalog number that astronomers use to identify an astronomical object.
Object Description The type of astronomical object.
R.A. Position Right ascension – analogous to longitude – is one component of an object's position.
Dec. Position Declination – analogous to latitude – is one component of an object's position.
Constellation One of 88 recognized regions of the celestial sphere in which the object appears.
Distance The physical distance from Earth to the astronomical object. Distances within our solar system are usually measured in Astronomical Units (AU). Distances between stars are usually measured in light-years. Interstellar distances can also be measured in parsecs.
Dimensions The physical size of the object or the apparent angle it subtends on the sky.
About The Data
Data Description
  • Proposal: A description of the observations, their scientific justification, and the links to the data available in the science archive.
  • Science Team: The astronomers who planned the observations and analyzed the data. "PI" refers to the Principal Investigator.
Instrument The science instrument used to produce the data.
Exposure Dates The date(s) that the telescope made its observations and the total exposure time.
Filters The camera filters that were used in the science observations.
About The Image
Image Credit The primary individuals and institutions responsible for the content.
Publication Date The date and time the release content became public.
Color Info A brief description of the methods used to convert telescope data into the color image being presented.
Orientation The rotation of the image on the sky with respect to the north pole of the celestial sphere.