The Planet Neptune with and without AO:
Neptune observed in the near-infrared (1.65 microns) with and without adaptive optics. Neptune is the outermost of the giant planets in our solar system, but also has the most dynamic and rapidly-changing weather patterns. This near-infrared image is primarily sensitive to such high-altitude clouds, which appear bright against the darker disk. Adaptive optics allows ground-based telescopes to monitor Neptune's evolving weather systems and to use spectroscopy to probe different altitudes in its poorly-understood atmosphere. (Macintosh et al 1999 and Max et al 2000 in preparation).
These two images show the changes in the high-altitude cloud structure. The right hand image is the same as the one above taken in May 1999 and the left hand image was taken one month later in June 1999.
|Last Modified: Nov 20, 2002|
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