SPHERE image of Saturn’s moon Titan

This infrared image of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, was one of the first produced by the SPHERE instrument soon after it was installed on ESO’s Very Large Telescope in May 2014. This picture shows how effective the adaptive optics system is at revealing fine detail on this tiny disc (just 0.8 arcseconds across). Titan was also a target used to test SPHERE’s polarimetric capabilities, which will be crucial to the study of some exoplanets.

This image was obtained by SPHERE at a wavelength of 1.59 micrometres. Titan is the largest satellite of Saturn (about 1.5 times the diameter of our Moon). It is covered with an extended atmosphere made mostly of nitrogen, with traces (about 1.5%) of methane. While at visible wavelengths, the surface of the satellite is hidden behind thick clouds, these near-infrared images have been obtained at a wavelength that permits to penetrate its atmosphere, and probe its surface.

Credit:

ESO/J.-L. Beuzit et al./SPHERE Consortium

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About the Image

Id:eso1417b
Type:Observation
Release date:4 June 2014, 12:00
Related releases:eso1417
Size:1000 x 961 px

About the Object

Name:Titan
Type:• Solar System : Planet : Satellite
• X - Solar System

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BandTelescope
Infrared Very Large Telescope
SPHERE

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