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JWST-PRES-012898. James Webb Space Telescope Science Updates. John C. Mather JWST Senior Project Scientist NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. JWST and related space missions. WMAP 6/30/01 to Sept. 2010: 3.2 – 13 mm; Big Bang HST upgraded! COS and WFC3 - 0.1 to 1.7 µm

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James Webb Space Telescope Science Updates

John C. Mather

JWST Senior Project Scientist

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

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JWST and related space missions

  • WMAP 6/30/01 to Sept. 2010: 3.2 – 13 mm; Big Bang

  • HST upgraded! COS and WFC3 - 0.1 to 1.7 µm

  • Spitzer: was 3.6 – 180 µm, now 3.6 & 4.5 µm

  • Kepler: launched 3/6 to find transiting Earths

  • Planck launched 5/14: 350 – 10,000 µm; Big Bang

  • Herschel launched 5/14: 60 – 670 µm

  • WISE - launch 11/1/09 - 3.3, 4.7, 12, and 23 μm survey

  • TESS – SMEX proposal for all-sky transiting planet survey – visible/near IR

  • JANUS – SMEX proposal for GRBs to z = 12

  • JDEM/IDECS – study dark energy

  • LISA – study black hole mergers to edge of the Universe

JWST Ottawa

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End of the dark ages: first light and reionization

… to identify the first luminous sources to form and to determine the ionization history of the early universe.

Hubble Ultra Deep Field

JWST Ottawa

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SN 2006 gy – brightest supernova

  • Could be the first observation of a pair-production instability, from the death of a very massive star.

    • Stars are normally held up by the balance of light pressure and gravity

    • Gamma rays producing electron/positron pairs scatters light, reducing pressure. Instability creates runaway collapse.

  • A nearby analog for the first stars in the Universe.

γ e– + e+ γ

  • Progenitor was similar to Eta Carina.

Hubble Image of Eta Carina

JWST Ottawa

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Pair-production SNe as First Stars

  • Good news: JWST can easily detect these when stars first formed (but not as transients).

  • Interesting news: pair-production instability doesn’t necessarily require primordial composition.

JWST Ottawa

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Gamma Ray Burst 4/23/09 most distant object yet found

(z = 8.2) – supernova jet aimed at us!

JANUS GRB (SMEX) search proposed, could see to z = 12

JWST Ottawa

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Neutral IGM








Lyman Forest Absorption

Patchy Absorption

Black Gunn-Peterson trough

When was re-ionization?




Fan, Carilli & Keating 2006, ARAA, 44, 415

JWST Ottawa

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Dark Energy!

MacArthur Fellow 2008 - Adam Riess

S. Perlmutter, A. Riess, B. Schmidt

JWST Ottawa

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JWST, Dark Energy, Dark Matter

  • JDEM/IDECS Science Coordinating Group report (Neil Gehrels, GSFC), http://jdem.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/SCG_Report_final.pdf

  • Problem: determine acceleration parameter now and in the past

  • Multiple techniques required due to likely systematic errors

  • JDEM/IDECS wide-field surveys will find targets for JWST

  • JWST contributes by

    • Measuring very distant supernovae (standard candles?)

    • Measuring effects of dark matter too (distorted images of distant objects, masses of galaxies and clusters out to high redshift, rotation curves, etc.)

    • Cosmic archeology at high redshift (prior to acceleration, formation of galaxies and clusters)

JWST Ottawa

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The Eagle Nebulaas seen in the infrared

How does environment affect star-formation and vice-versa?What is the sub-stellar initial mass function?

  • Massive stars produce winds and radiation

    • Either disrupt star formation, or causes it.

  • The boundary between the smallest brown dwarf stars and planets is unknown

    • Different processes? Or continuum?

  • Observations:

    • Survey dark clouds, “elephant trunks” and star-forming regions

The Eagle Nebula as seen by HST

JWST Ottawa

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  • As of 13 May, 347 total:

  • Radial velocity: 321 planets, 33 multiple planet systems

  • Transiting: 59 planets, no multiples (most good JWST targets)

  • Microlensing: 8 planets, 1 multiple system

  • Imaging: 11 planets, 1 system (a triple) (all good JWST targets)

  • Timing: 7 planets, 2 multiple planet systems

  • Kepler launched Mar. 6, 2009, will monitor ~ 100,000 stars, find handful of Earths, thousands of others

  • TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite), proposed SMEX, would survey nearest stars, best candidates for detailed follow-up with JWST

  • JWST Transits Working Group established – M. Clampin

  • JWST Ottawa

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    Planetary systems and the origins of life

    Kalas, Graham and Clampin 2005

    JWST Ottawa

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    Images of Exoplanets

    • "It's like a London bus - you've been waiting for one for ages and suddenly four come along at once.” – M. McCaughrean, BBC

    JWST Ottawa

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    • Advanced Camera for Surveys achieved the optical detection of an exoplanet around a star 25 light years from Earth.

      • First optical detection of a massive planet since Neptune in 1846.

      • Like the discovery of Neptune the existence of Fomalhaut b was predicted in advance by theory.

    • Planet’s mass lies between that of Neptune and Jupiter

      • Constrained by disk dynamics

    Named #2 Science Discovery of 2008

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    Planets Seen!

    HR 8799 b,c,d

    Marois et al. 2008

    Gemini & Keck

    Massive dust disk as if Mars collided with Earth

    β Pictoris b

    A.-M. Lagrange et al. 2008


    Fomalhaut b

    Kalas et al. 2008


    JWST Ottawa

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    • Planet blocks light from star

    • Visible/NIR light (Hubble/JWST)

    • Radius of planet/star

    • Absorption spectroscopy of planet’s atmosphere

    • JWST: Look for moons, constituents of atmosphere, Earth-like planets with water, weather

    • Star blocks light from planet

    • Mid-Infrared light (Spitzer/JWST)

    • Direct detection of photons from planet

    • Temperature of planet

    • Emission from surface

    • JWST: Atmospheric characteristics, constituents of atmosphere, map planets

    JWST Ottawa

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    Dwarf Planets and Plutoids

    May be 2000 more when whole sky is surveyed

    With moving object tracking JWST is perfect tool

    JWST Ottawa

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    Where they are

    JWST Ottawa

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    Senior Project Scientist

    Science Working Group

    M. Rieke




    G. Rieke

    FGS Science Team

    S&OC WIT Team

    MIRI Science Team

    NIRCam Science Team

    NIRSpec Science Team

    Science Working Group (SWG) = Standing panel of science subject matter experts to advise Project and HQ

    • Several SWG and other science team members are here today

    • Many scientists, but only one source of science requirements exist across the JWST Program

    JWST Science Requirements


    JWST Mission Requirements


    JWST Observatory Spec


    ISIM Requirements


    JWST Ottawa

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    More Info

    • 600 MB tutorial: Decadal Survey White Papers http://sites.nationalacademies.org/bpa/BPA_050603

    • 7 JWST White Papers submitted:

      • The Scientific Capabilities of the James Webb Space Telescope – Jon Gardner

      • Comparative Planetology: Transiting Exoplanet Science with JWST – Mark Clampin

      • Planetary Systems and Star Formation with JWST – George Rieke

      • Study of Planetary Systems and Solar System Objects with JWST – George Sonneborn

      • Stellar Populations with JWST: the Beginning and the End – Margaret Meixner

      • Galaxies Across Cosmic Time with JWST – Rogier Windhorst

      • First light and reionization : open questions in the post-JWST era – Massimo Stiavelli

    JWST Ottawa

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    More Info:

    Download for free at:


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    JWST Ottawa