When you think of Neptune, you probably think of a rich blue planet with swirls visible within it. However, that isn’t what Neptune looks like at all. The planet looks more like the paler blue we associate with Uranus. This was noticed when the images were first shared but has been forgotten in all the excitement. You can now see Neptune in its true colors thanks to a new picture from the University of Oxford .
The image shows the two giant ice planets next to each other, as we have seen them in previous images. And, based on the changes made by the team at the University of Oxford, the true colors of the planets make it a bit harder to see some of the other details on them.
But, why would the astronomers tell us lies? Why would they lie to us and make it seem like Neptune is a deep rich blue, when in fact its true colour is more pale? It wasn’t. The original photos were captioned heavily with the information that colors were changed to better show the details of planets. Unfortunately, over time, that messaging has been lost in the mix.
This is why the University of Oxford decided to showcase the two planet’s true colors in this new image. Both planets are actually a greenish-blue color, with very similar makeup. This also helps address other arguments, including why Neptune is so much bluer. It’s really interesting to see these two planets in their true colors, though, and it also helps to highlight an important note that should be made with all images of the cosmos.
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See, whenever space telescopes like James Webb capture images of a faraway galaxy, the astronomers who look at the images must interpret that data. Although many astronomers use similar colorization models, they can differ in the way that the images are colored. This gives us different perspectives on the same objects. That’s why Neptune’s true colors are so different from what we have been shown over the years.
It’s important to remember that images shared of the universe are likely not that colour. This is just how the data has been interpreted to help showcase the various pieces of information and details visible in the data. So, while Webb’s image of the Pillars of Creation might be enthralling, that’s not actually what the cosmic object looks like.