Neptune observed in the near infrared
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Neptune observed in the near infrared

May 11, 2010
Neptune observed in the near infrared (1.65 microns) with adaptive optics (AO) (left) and without AO (right). Neptune is the outermost of the giant planets in our solar system and it 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.

This research was conducted at the Center for Adaptive Optics (CfAO) at the University of California, Santa Cruz, a National Science Foundation-supported Science and Technology Center. The center researches AO in the fields of vision science and astronomy to remove the effects of image blurring through turbulent media. Applications include astronomical telescopes, laser guide stars, wavefront sensing, MEMS technology and retinal imaging.

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