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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

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 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 infrared light produced by very massive stars and their surrounding environment and seek to understand how far-ultraviolet 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

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 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:

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 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

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.

Cycle 1 Principal Investigator and Co-Principal Investigator Programs

General Observations
Program Title Lead Time (hrs)
Principal Investigator
Multiplicity Survey of 20 Y Dwarfs with NIRCam Kernel Phase Interferometry 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 Lisa Dang (McGill University) 24.9
Detecting the Synthesis of the Heaviest Elements with Photometry of a Kilonova in the Optically Thin Phase Dr. Maria Drout (University of Toronto) 9.3
Atmospheric Reconnaissance of the TRAPPIST-1 Planets Olivia Lim (Université de Montréal) 53.7
Unearthing the Fossilized Andromeda Galaxy: A Spectroscopic Pilot Survey of M31 Giants Dr. John Mackereth (Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics) 12.2
Dawn of the Monsters: JWST Characterization of Extremely Massive Galaxies at z~5 Dr. Cemile Marsan (York University) 8.6
Diamonds are Forever: Probing the Carbon Budget and Formation History of the Ultra-Puffy Hot Jupiter WASP-127b Stefan Pelletier (Université de Montréal) 13.1
The First Resolved View of Individual Star Formation Across a Spiral Arm 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 Dr. James Sikora (Bishop's University) 25
Unveiling Stellar Light from Host Galaxies of z~6 Quasars 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 Dr. Matthew Taylor (NRC Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics) 41.1
Co-Principal Investigator
Diamonds are Forever: Probing the Carbon Budget and Formation History of the Ultra-Puffy Hot Jupiter WASP-127b Dr. Romain Allart (Université de Montréal) 13.1
Diamonds are Forever: Probing the Carbon Budget and Formation History of the Ultra-Puffy Hot Jupiter WASP-127b Dr. Bjorn Benneke (Université de Montréal) 13.1
Do Massive Black Holes Come in Small Packages? A Census of Black Holes in Compact Stellar Systems in the Virgo Cluster Dr. Patrick Côté (National Research Council of Canada) 41.1
An Ultra-Sensitive Pencil Beam Search for 10 km Trans-Neptunian Objects Dr. Wesley Fraser (Dominion Astrophysical Observatory) 45.1
Dawn of the Monsters: JWST Characterization of Extremely Massive Galaxies at z~5 Dr. Adam Muzzin (York University) 8.6
Brown Dwarfs, White Dwarfs and Planetary Disks in an Ancient Stellar System Dr. Harvey Richer (University of British Columbia) 20.7

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

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