Speed Reads

Put a ring on it

NASA's Webb Telescope captures clearest image of Neptune's rings in 30 years

Put a ring on it?

NASA's James Webb Telescope has captured the clearest image of the rings around Neptune in over 30 years, the space agency announced Wednesday, per NPR. The photo from the telescope also details the planet and its 14 known moons.

Neptune typically appears blue in images like those taken by the Hubble Space Telescope because of the methane in the atmosphere, NASA and NPR explain. But this new photo taken with Webb's Near-Infrared Camera — which "images objects in the near-infrared range from 0.6 to 5 microns," NASA writes — depicts the planet as whiter in color. 

This is not the first time the Webb Telescope has captured some astounding images. In July, NASA released the telescope's first images depicting the birth of stars, as well as a never-before-seen compact of galaxies. And in September, the telescope captured a cosmic tarantula, showing thousands of young stars that had yet to be seen. 

"It has been three decades since we last saw these faint, dusty rings," said Heidi Hammel, a Neptune system expert and interdisciplinary scientist for the Webb project. "This is the first time we've seen them in the infrared."