The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is the next great space science observatory following Hubble, designed to answer outstanding questions about the Universe and to make breakthrough discoveries in all fields of astronomy. JWST will see farther into our origins - from the Universe's first galaxies, to the birth of stars and planets, and exoplanets with the potential for life. Closer to home, JWST will also look at our own Solar System in new light.
The science goals of the James Webb Space Telescope are organised into the following four themes:
The early Universe: What did the early Universe look like? When did the first stars and galaxies emerge?
Galaxies over time: How did the first galaxies evolve over time? What can we learn about dark matter and dark energy?
The lifecycle of stars: How and where do stars form? What determines how many of them form and their individual masses? How do stars die and how do their deaths impact the surrounding medium?
Other worlds: Where and how do planetary systems form and evolve?
Although the first two of these themes are extragalactic in nature and concerned with exploring the formation of stars and galaxies in the remote Universe at the earliest times, they are intimately linked to the latter two mainly Galactic themes, which aim at understanding the detailed process of star and planet formation in our own Galaxy.
JWST's primary aim is to shed light on our cosmic origins. It will observe the Universe's first galaxies, reveal the birth of stars and planets, and look for exoplanets with the potential for life.