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Canadian science observation programs for the Webb Telescope

Canadian scientists were 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 have access to three types of observation programs:

Early Release Science

Clouds of dust in star-forming regions

The Webb Telescope will be able to peer past clouds of dust in star-forming regions like the Orion Nebula. (Credit: NASA/C. O'Dell/S. Wong)

Canadian astronomer Dr. Els Peeters from Western University was among the first to do science with Webb, as she led one of the 13 chosen Early Release Science (ERS) programs. Dr. Peeters and her team are studying the interaction between infrared light produced by very massive stars and their surrounding environment and are seeking to understand how far-ultraviolet light affects the material between stars called the interstellar medium.

All selected ERS programs had 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

Transit spectroscopy

When starlight passes through a planet's atmosphere, certain parts of the light are absorbed by the atmosphere's elements. By studying which parts of light are absorbed, scientists can determine the composition of the planet's atmosphere. (Credits: Christine Daniloff/MIT, Julien de Wit)

During the first few years of the mission, the Canadian Webb science team is able to use up to 450 hours of guaranteed observing time with the Canadian NIRISS instrument and Webb's other instruments.

403 hours are split between two main Canadian programs:

47 hours will be split between seven smaller Canadian GTO programs tackling subjects such as rogue planets, brown dwarfs and exoplanets:

Other Canadian programs
Program Title Researchers 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

General observations

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.

Principal Investigator and Co-Principal Investigator Programs

Cycle 2
General Observations Cycle 2
Program Title Researchers Time (hrs)
Distant Sparkles: Are We Seeing Ancient Globular Clusters at Cosmic Noon? Principal Investigator: Lamiya Mowla (University of Toronto) 24.74
Ultracool White Dwarfs: Cool or Not So Cool? Principal Investigator: Simon Blouin (University of Victoria) 13.34
Beholding star cluster formation, feedback, and evolution with the 'Evil Eye' Principal Investigator: Jiayi Sun (McMaster University)
Co-Principal Investigator: Erik Rosolowsky (University of Alberta)
0.14 (in parallel)
JWST in Technicolor: Finding and Mapping the Most Extreme Star Forming Galaxies in the Epoch of Reionization with Medium and Narrow Bands Principal Investigator: Adam Muzzin (York University) 44.03
29.12 (in parallel)
Direct detection of molecular gas reservoir in the circumgalactic medium of a brightest cluster galaxy Principal Investigator: Allison Man (University of British Columbia)
Co-Principal Investigator: Laya Ghodsi (University of British Columbia)
Unmixing the ISM: Identifying Dominant Physical Effects with JWST/MIRI Mapping of M33 Principal Investigator: Erik Rosolowsky (University of Alberta) 10.28
2.72 (in parallel)
An R~100 MIRI 5-14 micron Spectral Library for Brown Dwarf and Exoplanetary Science Principal Investigator: Stanimir Metchev (The University of Western Ontario) 0 (Survey programs: observing time depends on appropriate schedule gaps)
Putting it all Together: Dynamics and Chemistry Probed Through Transmission Spectroscopy of a Cloud-Free Exoplanet Principal Investigator: Michael Radica (Université de Montréal) 6.69
Exploring the existence and diversity of volatile-rich water worlds Principal Investigator: Bjorn Benneke (Université de Montréal) 82
Hydrogen-rich sub-Neptune or exposed Neptune mantle?
Confirming the nature of the most favorable sub-Neptune for JWST emission spectroscopy
Principal Investigator: Pierre-Alexis Roy (Université de Montréal)
Co-Principal Investigator: Bjorn Benneke (Université de Montréal)
Completing the SMACS 0723 NIRISS WFSS EROs Principal Investigator: Gael Noirot (St. Mary's University)
Co-Principal Investigator: Marcin Sawicki (St. Mary's University)
Sgr A* as Particle Accelerator: What Drives the Black Hole's Variable IR and X-ray Emission? Co-Principal Investigator: Daryl Haggard (McGill University) 29.88
A JWST Census of the Local Galaxy Population: Anchoring the Physics of the Matter Cycle Co-Principal Investigator: Erik Rosolowsky (University of Alberta) 148.84
6.54 (in parallel)
Are dark, red, small KBOs devoid of volatiles? Co-Principal Investigator: Wesley Fraser (Dominion Astrophysical Observatory) 24.79

One hundred and fourteen contributions of co-investigators from Canada were also selected.

Cycle 1
General Observations Cycle 1
Program Title Researchers Time (hrs)
Multiplicity Survey of 20 Y Dwarfs with NIRCam Kernel Phase Interferometry Principal Investigator: Dr. Loïc Albert (Université de Montréal) 38.8
A Hell of a Phase Curve: Mapping the Surface and Atmosphere of a Lava Planet K2-141b Principal Investigator: Dr. Lisa Dang (McGill University) 24.9
Detecting the Synthesis of the Heaviest Elements with Photometry of a Kilonova in the Optically Thin Phase Principal Investigator: Dr. Maria Drout (University of Toronto) 9.3
Atmospheric Reconnaissance of the TRAPPIST-1 Planets Principal Investigator: Olivia Lim (Université de Montréal) 53.7
Unearthing the Fossilized Andromeda Galaxy: A Spectroscopic Pilot Survey of M31 Giants Principal Investigator: Dr. John Mackereth (Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics) 12.2
Dawn of the Monsters: JWST Characterization of Extremely Massive Galaxies at z~5 Principal Investigator: Dr. Cemile Marsan (York University)
Co-Principal Investigator: Dr. Adam Muzzin (York University)
Diamonds are Forever: Probing the Carbon Budget and Formation History of the Ultra-Puffy Hot Jupiter WASP-127b Principal Investigator: Stefan Pelletier (Université de Montréal)
Co-Principal Investigators : Dr. Romain Allart (Université de Montréal)
Dr. Bjorn Benneke (Université de Montréal)
The First Resolved View of Individual Star Formation Across a Spiral Arm Principal Investigator: Dr. Erik Rosolowsky (University of Alberta) 22.8
Real-Time Exoplanet Meteorology: Direct Measurement of Cloud Dynamics on the High-Eccentricity Hot Jupiter HD80606 b Principal Investigator: Dr. James Sikora (Bishop's University) 25
Unveiling Stellar Light from Host Galaxies of z~6 Quasars Principal Investigator: Dr. Madeline Marshall (NRC Dominion Astrophysical Observatory) 16
Do Massive Black Holes Come in Small Packages? A Census of Black Holes in Compact Stellar Systems in the Virgo Cluster Principal Investigator: Dr. Matthew Taylor (NRC Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics)
Co-Principal Investigator: Dr. Patrick Côté (National Research Council of Canada)
An Ultra-Sensitive Pencil Beam Search for 10 km Trans-Neptunian Objects Co-Principal Investigator: Dr. Wesley Fraser (Dominion Astrophysical Observatory) 45.1
Brown Dwarfs, White Dwarfs and Planetary Disks in an Ancient Stellar System Co-Principal Investigator: Dr. Harvey Richer (University of British Columbia) 20.7

Seventy-two contributions of co-investigators from Canada were also selected.

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