Webb Space Telescope Delivers Unprecedented Insights Into Jupiter’s Moons | Space


New discoveries by the James Webb Space Telescope have unveiled secrets about Jupiter’s largest moon, Ganymede, and the most volcanically active one, Io. The findings include evidence of the peroxide being produced by charged particles impacting the ice on Ganymede, and new observations of ongoing eruptions on Io. Credit: Ganymede: Samantha Trumbo, Cornell; Io: Imke de Pater, UC Berkeley

Groundbreaking observations by the James Webb Space Telescope have revealed hydrogen peroxide on Ganymede and ongoing volcanic eruptions on Io, enhancing our understanding of Jupiter’s moons and the broader solar system.

With its sensitive infrared cameras and high-resolution spectrometer, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is revealing new secrets of Jupiter’s Galilean satellites, in particular Ganymede, the largest moon, and Io, the most volcanically active.

In two separate publications, astronomers who are part of JWST’s Early Release Science program report the first detection of hydrogen peroxide on Ganymede and sulfurous fumes on Io, both the result of Jupiter’s domineering influence.

“This shows that we can do incredible science with the James Webb Space Telescope on solar system objects, even if the object is really very bright, like Jupiter, but also when you look at very faint things next to Jupiter,” said Imke de Pater, professor emerita of astronomy and earth and planetary science at the University of California, Berkeley. De Pater and Thierry Fouchet from the Paris Observatory are co-principal investigators for the Early Release Science solar system observation team, one of 13 teams given early access to the telescope.

A spectroscopic map of Ganymede derived from JWST measurements shows light absorption around the pole’s characteristic of the molecule hydrogen peroxide. The circle outlines the surfaces of the moon. Credit: Samantha Trumbo, Cornell

Ganymede’s Hydrogen Peroxide Study

Samantha Trumbo, a 51 Pegasi b postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University,…

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