Publication archive

Publication archive

The James Webb Space Telescope (Gardner et al. 2006) will be capable of characterizing extrasolar planets to significantly greater sensitivity than the current Spitzer detections (Charbonneau et al. 2005, Deming et al. 2005, 2006). In combination with ground-based transit surveys and scientific results from the Kepler and Corot missions, JWST will be able to address the detailed physical characterization of up to 250 exosolar planets (Mountain et al. 2006; Beichman et al. 2006). Transit studies of exosolar planets are currently unique in providing measurements that permit comparative exoplanetology.
Published: 15 November 2007
The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will be an exciting, highly capable tool, able to make important contributions to studies of stellar populations in nearby galaxies, including our own. JWST observations will contribute to: (1) the study of the star formation histories of nearby galaxies, exploiting the large lever arm provided by visibleinfrared colors; (2) the derivation of the properties of stellar populations from the study of the bright red stellar component out to the Virgo cluster and beyond; and (3) the derivation of the white dwarf cooling sequence age of globular clusters in the Milky Way from the study of deep visible red color magnitude diagrams.
Published: 23 October 2008
The James Webb Space Telescope is a large (25 m2), cold (<50 K), infrared (IR)-optimized space observatory that will be launched during 2013. It is the successor to the Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes. The observatory has four instruments: a near-IR camera, a near-IR multi-object spectrograph, and a tunable filter imager will operate within the wavelength range, 0.6 < l < 5.0 microns, while the mid-IR instrument will provide both imaging and spectroscopy over the 5.0 < l < 28.5 microns spectrum.
Published: 15 November 2009
We discuss the recent progress on stellar populations provided by the influx of high sensitivity infrared photometry measurements using the Spitzer SAGE survey of the Large Magellanic Cloud as an example. We discuss the important role JWST will play in expanding such studies out to the local volume of galaxies (~10 Mpc) and its synergy with concurrent missions. In addition to observational capabilities, we will need theoretical tools to further this field in the next decade.
Published: 15 November 2009
JWST provides capabilities unmatched by other telescopic facilities in the near to mid infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Its combination of broad wavelength range, high sensitivity and near diffraction-limited imaging around two microns wavelength make it a high value facility for a variety of Solar System targets. Beyond Neptune, a class of cold, large bodies that include Pluto, Triton and Eris exhibits surface deposits of nitrogen, methane, and other molecules that are poorly observed from the ground, but for which JWST might provide spectral mapping at high sensitivity and spatial resolution difficult to match with the current generation of ground-based observatories. The observatory will also provide unique sensitivity in a variety of near and mid infrared windows for observing relatively deep into the atmospheres of Uranus and Neptune, searching there for minor species. It will examine the Jovian aurora in a wavelength regime where the background atmosphere is dark. Special provision of a subarray observing strategy may allow observation of Jupiter and Saturn over a larger wavelength range despite their large surface brightnesses, allowing for detailed observation of transient phenomena including large scale storms and impact-generation disturbances. JWSTs observations of Saturns moon Titan will overlap with and go beyond the 2017 end-of-mission for Cassini, providing an important extension to the time-series of meteorological studies for much of northern hemisphere summer. It will overlap with a number of other planetary missions to targets for which JWST can make unique types of observations. JWST provides a platform for linking solar system and extrasolar planet studies through its unique observational capabilities in both arenas.
Published: 09 March 2010
Determination of the physical and chemical properties of planetary systems is the main objective of the planetary systems and the origins of life scientific theme of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). This white paper summarizes the missions capabilities for direct detection and study of exoplanets and circumstellar material (>0.1" from parent star), planets and other objects in our own Solar System, and corresponding scientific advances expected from JWST in the next decade.
Published: 15 November 2009
The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST; Gardner et al. 2006) will be a large, cold, infrared- optimized space telescope designed to enable fundamental breakthroughs in our understanding of the formation and evolution of galaxies, stars, and planetary systems (see Astro 2010 white papers by Gardner et al., Stiavelli et al., Meixner et al., G. Rieke et al., & Sonneborn et al.). In the current white paper, we describe the great potential of JWST in the theme of Galaxy Assembly.
Published: 13 February 2009
The study of transiting exoplanets has provided most of the key data to date on the properties of exoplanets, such as direct estimates of their mass and radius (e.g.Charbonneau 2007), and spectral diagnostics of their atmospheres (e.g. Swain et al. 2008). The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) and Spitzer Space Telescope (SST) have both played lead roles in making the demanding, high S/N observations of light curves, and spectra of transiting exoplanets. Ground-based surveys have so far provided the candidate targets for space-based characterization studies. The study of transiting exoplanets requires the extraction of a differential signal from high S/N observations so the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), by virtue of its 25 m2 collecting area (~50x SST), will open up a new discovery space for transiting exoplanet science. Specifically, it will enable the characterization of intermediate and low mass exoplanets. The goal of this white paper is to provide an informational briefing for the panel on the expected capabilities of JWST for observations of exoplanet transits, in particular the characterization of transiting lower mass planets (d MNep).
Published: 15 November 2009
Before addressing how JWST can detect "First Light" we need to define what we mean by such term. First light is the appearance of the first stars (Population III) or mini-AGNs in the Universe. JWST is incapable of detecting individual Population III stars directly but could detected them as SNae, thought to be ultra-bright pair instability SNae or, even, Gamma Ray Bursts. The recent detection of the superluminous SN2006gy of absolute magnitude -22 (Smith et al. 2007, astro-ph/0612617) and detectable to z=20 and beyond highlights the appeal of this approach as a very effective way to identify the location of very high-z objects.
Published: 16 October 2007
The aim of this paper is to outline the expected JWST performance in addressing first light and reionization science questions that are found to be of interest today. These are some of the most challenging and interesting questions in modern astronomy, and are key drivers for the design of the JWST. Nevertheless, because these early epochs are difficult to observe, even JWST is unlikely to provide complete answers.
Published: 15 November 2009
The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) has contributed significantly to studies of dark energy. It was used to find the first evidence of deceleration at z=1.8 (Riess et al. 2001) through the serendipitous discovery of a type 1a supernova (SNIa) in the Hubble Deep Field. The discovery of deceleration at z>1 was confirmation that the apparent acceleration at low redshift (Riess et al. 1998; Perlmutter et al. 1999) was due to dark energy rather than observational or astrophysical effects such as systematic errors, evolution in the SNIa population or intergalactic dust. The GOODS project and associated follow-up discovered 21 SNIa, expanding on this result (Riess et al. 2007). HST has also been used to constrain cosmological parameters and dark energy through weak lensing measurements in the COSMOS survey (Massey et al 2007; Schrabback et al 2009) and strong gravitational lensing with measured time delays (Suyu et al 2010).
Published: 18 March 2010
The James Webb Space Telescope (Gardner et al. 2006} will have the capability to make significant, early progress in extrasolar planet studies. The JWST instrument complement features several coronagraphs that will be able to conduct programs imaging debris disks, and conduct searches to directly detect gas giant exoplanets.
Published: 16 June 2007

A report to NASA recommending addition or optimization of the James Webb Space Telescope capabilities to maximize astrobiology science return.

JWST has many 'nascent capabilities' that could be developed to optimize their value for astrobiology at little cost or detriment to other JWST science. Here we summarize recommendations to the JWST project to ensure a wide variety of key astrobiological contributions.

Published: 15 March 2004
This document will be used as an input to the new call for ideas for the Cosmic Vision programme. The objective is to make a survey of potential interplanetary transfers between the Earth and the outer planets Saturn, Uranus and Neptune for the timeframe 2025-2035. The main mission is probe release, either simple to the target planet, or double if it is possible in terms of mass. Two launchers have been contemplated: Soyuz-Fregat and Ariane 5 ECA, both launched from Kourou. A first step in the analysis has been to find all potential transfers following well known and efficient sequences. The second step carried out was to filter out the huge amount of solutions by applying a system margin approach. This approach allowed to conclude whether or not a specific mission (simple vs double) with a specific launcher and target planet was feasible.
Published: 22 July 2010

The International X-ray Observatory (IXO) is a candidate mission in the ESA Space Science Programme Cosmic Visions 1525.

IXO is being studied as a joint mission with NASA and JAXA. The mission is building on novel optics technologies to achieve the required performance for this demanding astrophysics observatory. The European X-ray optics technology baseline is the Silicon Pore optics (SPO), which is being developed by an industrial consortium. In a phased approach the performance, environmental compatibility and industrial production aspects are being addressed. As a back-up technology ESA is also investigating slumped glass optics, which forms the baseline for the NASA approach.

The paper, which was presented at the SPIE Astronomical Telescopes and Instrumentation 2010, presents a summary of the ESA-led optics technology preparation activities and the associated roadmap.

Published: 22 July 2010

The International X-ray Observatory (IXO) is an L class mission candidate within the science programme Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 of the European Space Agency, with a planned launch by 2020. IXO is an international cooperative project, pursued by ESA, JAXA and NASA. By allowing astrophysical observations between 100 eV and 40 keV, IXO would represent the new generation X-ray observatory, following the XMM-Newton, Astro-H and Chandra heritage. The IXO mission concept is based on a single aperture telescope with an external diameter of about 3.5 m, a focal length of 20 m and a number of focal plane instruments, positioned at the focal point via a movable platform. A grating spectrometer, enabling parallel measurements, is also included in the model payload. Two parallel competitive industrial assessment studies are being carried out by ESA on the overall IXO mission, while the instruments are being studied by dedicated instrument consortia. The main results achieved during this study are summarised in this paper which was presented at the SPIE Astronomical Telescopes and Instrumentation 2010 conference.

Published: 22 July 2010

The International X-ray Observatory (IXO) is an L class mission candidate within the science Programme Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 of the European Space Agency, with a planned launch by 2020. IXO is an international cooperative project, pursued by ESA, JAXA and NASA. By allowing astrophysical observations between 100 eV and 40 keV using a very large effective collecting area mirror and state-of-the art instruments, IXO would represent the new generation X-ray observatory, following the XMM-Newton, Astro-H and Chandra heritage.

This paper was presented at the SPIE conference on Astronomical Instrumentation 2010 conference.

Published: 22 July 2010
The first flyby of an asteroid by a European spacecraft was a major success, both from the scientific and engineering points of view. This was the first planned scientific objective of ESA's Rosetta mission, and the optical navigation campaign, performed for the first time in Europe, gave results well beyond expectations.
Published: 15 February 2010
Gaia is ESA's global space astrometry mission, designed to map one thousand million stars and hundreds of thousands of other celestial objects in our galaxy, so its camera will have to be something truly special.
Published: 15 February 2010
In this first paper on the results of our Herschel PACS survey of local ultra luminous infrared galaxies (ULIRGs), as part of our SHINING survey of local galaxies, we present far-infrared spectroscopy of Mrk 231, the most luminous of the local ULIRGs, and a type 1 broad absorption line AGN. For the first time in a ULIRG, all observed far-infrared fine-structure lines in the PACS range were detected and all were found to be deficient relative to the far infrared luminosity by 1-2 orders of magnitude compared with lower luminosity galaxies. The deficits are similar to those for the mid-infrared lines, with the most deficient lines showing high ionization potentials. Aged starbursts may account for part of the deficits, but partial covering of the highest excitation AGN powered regions may explain the remaining line deficits. A massive molecular outflow, discovered in OH and 18OH, showing outflow velocities out to at least 1400 km s-1, is a unique signature of the clearing out of the molecular disk that formed by dissipative collapse during the merger. The outflow is characterized by extremely high ratios of 18O/16O suggestive of interstellar medium processing by advanced starbursts.
Published: 17 July 2010
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