Extraordinary image of Neptune's rings as seen by Webb Telescope

NASA released this stunning image of Neptune, the ice giant located 2.687 billion miles away from us. It's the best view of Neptune's rings since Voyager 2's flyby in 1989.

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

The bright shining star-like object in the image is actually Neptune's moon Triton, one of the planet's 14 known moons. (The image captured seven of them.) From NASA:

Covered in a frozen sheen of condensed nitrogen, Triton reflects an average of 70 percent of the sunlight that hits it. It far outshines Neptune in this image because the planet's atmosphere is darkened by methane absorption at these near-infrared wavelengths. Triton orbits Neptune in an unusual backward (retrograde) orbit, leading astronomers to speculate that this moon was originally a Kuiper belt object that was gravitationally captured by Neptune. Additional Webb studies of both Triton and Neptune are planned in the coming year.

image: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI