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Neptune observed in the near infrared using AO

Neptune observed in the near infrared with and without adaptive optics

Neptune observed in the near infrared (1.65 microns) using adaptive optics (AO) (left) and without AO (right). Neptune is the outermost of the giant planets in our solar system and has the most dynamic and rapidly changing weather patterns. This near-infrared image is primarily sensitive to high-altitude clouds, which appear bright against the darker disk. AO 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, microelectromechanical systems technology and retinal imaging.

Credit: Center for Adaptive Optics, UCSC

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