Canadian science observation programs for the Webb Telescope
Canadian scientists will be some of the first to use the James Webb Space Telescope to make new discoveries about the universe.
Thanks to the Canadian Space Agency's contribution to the mission, Canadian astronomers will have access to three types of observation programs:
- Early Release Science
- Guaranteed Time Observations
- General Observations
Early Release Science
Canadian astronomer Dr. Els Peeters from Western University will be among the first to do science with Webb, as she will be leading one of the 13 chosen Early Release Science (ERS) programs. Dr. Peeters and her team will study the interaction between far-ultraviolet light produced by very massive stars and their surrounding environment and seek to understand how infrared light affects the material between stars called the interstellar medium.
All selected ERS programs will have exclusive access to Webb during its first five months of operations. These programs went through a competitive process before being chosen based on their scientific merit and benefit for the global astronomical community.
Guaranteed time observations
During the first few years of the mission, the Canadian Webb science team will be able to use up to 450 hours of guaranteed observing time with the Canadian NIRISS instrument and Webb's other instruments.
403 hours will be split between two main Canadian programs:
- NIRISS Exploration of the Atmospheric diversity of Transiting exoplanets (NEAT), led by Dr. David Lafrenière from the Université de Montréal, will study the atmospheres of exoplanets, including their composition and temperature. Some of the NEAT program's targets are rocky planets like Earth. The NEAT team hopes to make the very first detection of an atmosphere on such a planet. This could give us clues on whether or not those planets are habitable.
- CAnadian NIRISS Unbiased Cluster Survey (CANUCS), led by Dr. Chris Willott from National Research Council Canada's Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Centre, will study some of the first galaxies ever formed and galaxies found in groups called clusters. They will use the Canadian NIRISS instrument to collect images and spectra from these galaxies at different periods of the universe's history. This will help them better understand how galaxies evolved over time.
Forty-seven hours will be split between seven smaller Canadian GTO programs tackling subjects such as rogue planets, brown dwarfs and exoplanets:
|Program title||Lead||Time (hrs)|
|The NIRISS Survey for Young Brown Dwarfs and Rogue Planets||Dr. Aleks Scholz (University of St Andrews)||19|
|Planets in Formation Around Young Stars: NIRISS Aperture Masking Interferometry (AMI) Observations of Transition Disk Systems||Dr. Doug Johnstone (National Research Council Canada's Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Centre)||10|
|Architecture of Directly-Imaged Extrasolar Planetary Systems||Dr. Julien Rameau (Université Grenoble Alpes)||7|
|NGC 1068 as Proving Ground for NIRISS AMI||Dr. K.E. Saavik Ford (City University of New York)||5|
|Probing the Cloud Properties of the Benchmark Variable T Dwarf SIMP0136||Dr. Étienne Artigau (Université de Montréal)||4|
|High-Angular Observations of Ultracool Brown Dwarfs||Dr. Loïc Albert (Université de Montréal)||3|
|Exozodiacal Disks: A Theatre for Planetary Gravitational Shadow Plays||Dr. Peter Tuthill (University of Sydney)||3|
Canadian astronomers will have access to 5% of Webb's observing time reserved for General Observations programs selected through a competitive process. These science programs will be chosen on a yearly basis while Webb is operational.
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