The first images of Jupiter from JWST that we have seen were from its commissioning phase and delivered incredible infrared quality. However, those images pale in comparison to the first proper scientific images of the gas giant released today. The newly publish observations have such a level of detail that not only can we see structures in the turbulent atmosphere of Jupiter, but we can see the planet’s rings, some of its moons, and even aurorae. The images are simply extraordinary.
JWST observes the universe in infrared light, which is invisible to us. The colors in these images are mapped from three different filters onto colors we can see. Blue has the shortest infrared wavelength and they are the hotter areas, compared to the longer wavelength traced in red.
In the image focused on Jupiter above, the aurorae and some of the high-altitude hazes are mapped in red. Deeper clouds layers and hazes are in green or yellow. The deepest parts are in blue. The white regions, like the center of the Great Red Spot, are due to reflected sunlight.
In the wider image above, we can see not just Jupiter but also a diffraction spike from volcanic moon Io, the gas giant's very thin ring system, and its inner moons Amalthea and Adrastea, the second and third fastest moons in the Solar System. And those fuzzy dots all around it? Those are distant galaxies photobombing the largest planet in the Solar System.
JWST may have taken over a decade to reach space but all these incredible images we are seeing now make it well worth the wait.