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Changes in high-altitude cloud structure on Neptune

Two images illustrating the changes in the high-altitude cloud structure on Neptune

Two images illustrating the changes in the high-altitude cloud structure on Neptune. The observations were made in the near-infrared (1.65 microns) using adaptive optics (AO). This near-infrared image is primarily sensitive to high-altitude clouds, which appear bright against the darker disk. AO allows groundbased telescopes to monitor Neptune's evolving weather systems and to use spectroscopy to probe different altitudes in its poorly-understood atmosphere. Neptune is the outermost of the giant planets in our solar system and has the most dynamic and rapidly changing weather patterns.

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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