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  • richardmitnick 2:41 pm on May 29, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Infrared vision, , NASA/ESA/CSA Webb   

    Fom James Webb Space Telescope: “A New View of Exoplanets With NASA’s Upcoming Webb Telescope” 

    NASA Webb Header

    NASA Webb Telescope
    NASA/ESA/CSA

    Fom James Webb Space Telescope

    May 29, 2019

    Contact:
    Ann Jenkins /
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland
    410-338-4488 /
    jenkins@stsci.edu

    Christine Pulliam
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland
    410-338-4366
    cpulliam@stsci.edu

    1
    About This Image

    One of the targets Webb will study is the well-known, giant ring of dust and planetesimals orbiting a young star called HR 4796A. This Hubble Space Telescope photo shows a vast, complex dust structure, about 150 billion miles across, enveloping the young star HR 4796A. (The light from HR 4796A and its binary companion, HR 4796B, have been blocked to reveal the much dimmer dust structure.) A bright, narrow inner ring of dust encircling the star may have been corralled by the gravitational pull of an unseen giant planet. Credits: NASA/ESA and G. Schneider (University of Arizona)

    How Do We Find Exoplanets?

    The James Webb Space Telescope will open a new window on exoplanets, planets around other suns. With its keen infrared vision, Webb will observe them in wavelengths where they have never been studied before. One of the telescope’s first observation programs is to look at young, newly formed exoplanets and the systems they inhabit. Scientists will use all four of Webb’s instruments to observe three targets: A recently discovered exoplanet; an object that is either an exoplanet or a brown dwarf; and a well-studied ring of dust and planetesimals orbiting a young star. Webb will be vital for understanding how these objects form, and what these systems are like. These observations are part of a program that allows the astronomical community to quickly learn how best to use Webb’s capabilities, while also yielding robust science.

    While we now know of thousands of exoplanets — planets around other stars — the vast majority of our knowledge is indirect. That is, scientists have not actually taken many pictures of exoplanets, and because of the limits of current technology, we can only see these worlds as points of light. However, the number of exoplanets that have been directly imaged is growing over time. When NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope launches in 2021, it will open a new window on these exoplanets, observing them in wavelengths at which they have never been seen before and gaining new insights about their nature.

    Exoplanets are close to much brighter stars, so their light is generally overwhelmed by the light of the host stars. Astronomers usually find an exoplanet by inferring its presence based on the dimming of its host star’s light as the planet passes in front of the star—an event called a “transit.” Sometimes a planet tugs on its star, causing the star to wobble slightly.

    In a few cases, scientists have captured pictures of exoplanets by using instruments called coronagraphs. These devices block the glare of the star in much the same way you might use your hand to block the light of the Sun. However, finding exoplanets with this technique has proven to be very difficult. All that will change with the sensitivity of Webb. Its onboard coronagraphs will allow scientists to view exoplanets at infrared wavelengths they’ve never seen them in before.

    Webb’s Unique Capabilities

    Coronagraphs have something important in common with eclipses. During an eclipse, the Moon blocks the light of the Sun, allowing us to view stars that would normally be overwhelmed by the Sun’s glare. Astronomers took advantage of this during the 1919 eclipse, 100 years ago on May 29, in order to test Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity. Similarly, a coronagraph acts as an “artificial eclipse” to block the light from a star, allowing planets that would otherwise be lost in the star’s glare to be seen.

    “Most of the planets that we have detected so far are roughly 10,000 to 1 million times fainter than their host star,” explained Sasha Hinkley of the University of Exeter. Hinkley is the principal investigator on one of Webb’s first observation programs to study exoplanets and exoplanetary systems.

    “There is, no doubt, a population of planets that are fainter than that, that have higher contrast ratios, and are possibly farther out from their stars,” Hinkley said. “With Webb, we will be able to see planets that are more like 10 million, or optimistically, 100 million times fainter.” To observe their targets, the team will use high-contrast imaging, which discerns this large difference in brightness between the planet and the star.

    Webb will have the capability of observing its targets in the mid-infrared, which is invisible to the human eye, but with sensitivity that is vastly superior to any other observatory ever built. This means that Webb will be sensitive to a class of planet not yet detected. Specifically, Saturn-like planets at very wide orbital separations from their host star may be within reach of Webb.

    “Our program is looking at young, newly formed planets and the systems they inhabit,” explained co-principal investigator Beth Biller of the University of Edinburgh. “Webb is going to allow us to do this in much more detail and at wavelengths we’ve never explored before. So it’s going to be vital for understanding how these objects form, and what these systems are like.”

    Testing the Waters

    The team’s observations will be part of the Director’s Discretionary-Early Release Science program, which provides time to selected projects early in the telescope’s mission. This program allows the astronomical community to quickly learn how best to use Webb’s capabilities, while also yielding robust science.

    “With our ERS program, we will really be ‘testing the waters’ to get an understanding of how Webb performs,” said Hinkley. “We really need the best understanding of the instruments, of the stability, of the most effective way to post-process the data. Our observations are going to tell our community the most efficient way to use Webb.”

    The Targets

    Hinkley’s team will use all four of Webb’s instruments to observe three targets: A recently discovered exoplanet; an object that is either an exoplanet or a brown dwarf; and a well-studied ring of dust and planetesimals orbiting a young star.

    Exoplanet HIP 65426b: This newly discovered, directly imaged exoplanet has a mass between six and 12 times that of Jupiter and is orbiting a star that is hotter than and about twice as massive as our Sun.

    Direct imaging-This false-color composite image traces the motion of the planet Fomalhaut b, a world captured by direct imaging. Credit: NASA, ESA, and P. Kalas (University of California, Berkeley and SETI Institute

    The exoplanet is roughly 92 times farther from its star than Earth is from the Sun. The wide separation of this young planet from its star means that the team’s observations will be much less affected by the bright glare of the host star. Hinkley and his team plan to use Webb’s full suite of coronagraphs to view this target.

    Planetary-mass companion VHS 1256b: An object somewhere around the planet/brown dwarf boundary, VHS 1256b also is widely separated from its red dwarf host star—about 100 times the distance that the Earth is from the Sun. Because of its wide separation, observations of this object are much less likely to be affected by unwanted light from the host star. In addition to high-contrast imaging, the team expects to get one of the first “uncorrupted” spectra of a planet-like body at wavelengths where these objects have never before been studied.

    Circumstellar debris disk: For more than 20 years, scientists have been studying a ring of dust and planetesimals orbiting a young star called HR 4796A, which is about twice as massive as our own Sun. Astronomers think that most planetary systems probably looked a lot like HR 4796A and its debris ring at their earliest ages, making this a particularly interesting target to study. The team will use the high-contrast imaging of Webb’s coronagraphs to view the disk in different wavelengths. Their goal is to see if the structures of the disk look different from wavelength to wavelength.

    Planning the Program

    To plan this Early Release Science program, Hinkley asked as many members of the astronomical community as possible the simple question: If you want to plan a survey to search for exoplanets, what are the questions that you need the answers to for planning your surveys?

    “What we came up with was a set of observations that we think is going to answer those questions. We are going to tell the community that this is the way Webb performs in this mode, this is the kind of sensitivity we get, and this is the kind of contrast we achieve. And we need to rapidly turn that around and inform the community so that they can prepare their proposals really, really quickly.”

    The team is excited to view their targets in wavelengths never before detected, and to share their knowledge. According to Biller, “We could see years ago that for some of the planets we’ve already discovered, Webb would be really transformational.”

    The James Webb Space Telescope will be the world’s premier space science observatory when it launches in 2021. Webb will solve mysteries in our solar system, look beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probe the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it. Webb is an international program led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency.

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The James Webb Space Telescope will be a large infrared telescope with a 6.5-meter primary mirror. Launch is planned for later in the decade.

    Webb telescope will be the premier observatory of the next decade, serving thousands of astronomers worldwide. It will study every phase in the history of our Universe, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own Solar System.

    Webb telescope was formerly known as the “Next Generation Space Telescope” (NGST); it was renamed in Sept. 2002 after a former NASA administrator, James Webb.

    Webb is an international collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). The NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is managing the development effort. The main industrial partner is Northrop Grumman; the Space Telescope Science Institute will operate Webb after launch.

    Several innovative technologies have been developed for Webb. These include a folding, segmented primary mirror, adjusted to shape after launch; ultra-lightweight beryllium optics; detectors able to record extremely weak signals, microshutters that enable programmable object selection for the spectrograph; and a cryocooler for cooling the mid-IR detectors to 7K.

    There will be four science instruments on Webb: the Near InfraRed Camera (NIRCam), the Near InfraRed Spectrograph (NIRspec), the Mid-InfraRed Instrument (MIRI), and the Fine Guidance Sensor/ Near InfraRed Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (FGS-NIRISS). Webb’s instruments will be designed to work primarily in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum, with some capability in the visible range. It will be sensitive to light from 0.6 to 28 micrometers in wavelength.

    NASA Webb NIRCam

    NASA Webb NIRspec

    NASA Webb MIRI

    CSA Webb Fine Guidance Sensor-Near InfraRed Imager and Slitless Spectrograph FGS/NIRISS


    Webb has four main science themes: The End of the Dark Ages: First Light and Reionization, The Assembly of Galaxies, The Birth of Stars and Protoplanetary Systems, and Planetary Systems and the Origins of Life.

    Launch is scheduled for later in the decade on an Ariane 5 rocket. The launch will be from Arianespace’s ELA-3 launch complex at European Spaceport located near Kourou, French Guiana. Webb will be located at the second Lagrange point, about a million miles from the Earth.

    NASA image

    ESA50 Logo large

    Canadian Space Agency

     
  • richardmitnick 11:03 am on May 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , NASA/ESA/CSA Webb   

    From Webb via Medium: “Is the James Webb Space Telescope Worth the Wait?” 

    NASA Webb Header

    NASA Webb Telescope

    James Webb Space Telescope

    via

    Medium

    May 9, 2019
    James Maynard

    Billed as the successor to Hubble, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) promises to bring about a new era in astronomy. This mammoth orbiting observatory is designed to answer some of the greatest and deepest questions astronomers have about the Cosmos.

    However, this project, originally conceived in 1996 for launch around 2007, has faced a series of delays and setbacks, and the telescope remains on the ground. Some members of Congress, and even the general public, are starting to ask if Webb is worth the cost and the delays. Scientists, on the other hand, are eagerly awaiting the launch with bated breath.

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    The golden mirror of the James Webb Space Telescope contains 18 segments, designed to captured light from the earliest ages of the Cosmos. Image credit: NASA/Desiree Stover

    “The James Webb Space Telescope will be the world’s premier space science observatory when it launches in 2021. Webb will solve mysteries of our solar system, look beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probe the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it,” NASA officials explain.

    Dream Big or Stay Home

    Following an initial budget estimate of one billion dollars, costs have skyrocketed to $9.66 billion, while the launch date has slipped by more than a decade. Technical errors, equipment failures, and the government shutdown early in 2019 all combined to push back the launch of this next generation space telescope.

    For much of the time Webb was being developed, NASA was aiming for launch in October 2018. In September 2017, that date was pushed back to spring 2019. In March 2018, launch was again delayed, until May 2020. Then, in June 2018, NASA rescheduled launch for March 2021.

    One major hurdle with lifting Webb off the ground is the massive scope of the project. Engineers at NASA, faced with scientific challenges that have never before been reached, needed to develop 10 new technologies before construction could begin on the telescope. These included advanced shielding to protect the observatory from the heat of the Sun, as well as new software to keep Webb pointed at its target.

    “Among the new technologies are: near and mid-infrared detectors, sunshield materials, microshutters and wavefront sensing and control. All inventions, with the exception of wavefront sensing and control are ‘cryogenic,’ which means icy cold. It’s important for these pieces to be kept cold because the telescope will be reading heat and light from stars, and heat from instruments would get in the way of a good reading,” NASA officials explain.

    3
    The JWST will come complete with a wide range of technologies, many of which are still being developed.

    The researchers, engineers, and contractors of NASA have a can-do attitude, which can be one of their greatest strengths. It was this zeitgeist which allowed the American space agency to put astronauts on the Moon less than a decade after the project was initiated. The mindset that anything is possible also led to saving the Hubble, as well as the astronauts aboard Apollo 13. It is challenging, when an agency is faced with the prospect of developing great science like Webb proposes, to take into account the inevitable failures and setbacks which are bound to come up over time.

    “The James Webb Space Telescope is the most ambitious and complex astronomical project ever built, and bringing it to life is a long, meticulous process. The wait will be a little longer now but the breakthrough science that it will enable is absolutely worth it,” said Günther Hasinger, Director of Science at the European Space Agency (ESA), following the most recent launch delay.

    It’s Harder to Hit a Moving Target

    One challenge facing NASA is the constantly-shifting priorities of presidents and members of Congress. Unlike China, the American space program, in general, is beset by scientific targets that shift with each passing administration.

    As a prime example of this, NASA was recently directed to land human beings on the Moon once more, by the year 2024. While many people within the agency are confident of making this goal, the challenges are quite extraordinary. Meanwhile, several other countries and private organization are also planning their own human journeys to our planetary companion.


    A video showing the launch and deployment of the JWST. Credit: Northrop Grumman

    The JWST was first officially proposed to NASA in 2001, by the National Academy of Sciences, as the Next Generation Space Telescope. This massive undertaking was declared a top priority for the academy, and a one billion dollar budget was proposed for the program.

    Cost overruns are not new, or unexpected, at NASA. The Hubble Space Telescope, designed to cost $200 million, finally tallied out at $1.2 billion. Only after launch did researchers find it had reached orbit with a faulty mirror that needed correcting.

    “NASA project managers are often overly optimistic about the effort required to mature critical technologies and frequently underestimate the cost and schedule reserves needed to address known and unknown risks, optimistically assuming that most risks will not materialize. However, when they do they result in significant cost, schedule, and performance problems,” Paul Martin, NASA Inspector General, wrote in June 2018.


    A video comparing the Hubble and James Webb Space Telescopes. Credit: James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)

    Northrop Grumman, the main contractor for Webb, has been a frequent target for critics of the delays and cost overruns. Human errors have certainly contributed to problems getting Webb off the ground. One person selected an improper solvent to clean a fuel valve, while an incorrect set of wires pushed the wrong voltage into a system during a test. Just prior to another key test, the wrong fasteners were installed on the sunshield cover, resulting in another delay.

    Grumman has a large team of workers dedicated solely to building the JWST, and delays at any point in the project can result in large cost overruns. The Virginia-based contractor is constructing Webb on a cost-plus contract, meaning that cost overruns are charged to the government. Other organizations (such as SpaceX) ferrying supplies to the space station are paid on a fixed-price basis. However, Grumman officials have stated they would have been unable to make a profit on Webb if they were required to develop the telescope on a fixed-price contract.

    On Further Reflection…

    The Webb Telescope will, almost certainly, rise from Earth one day in the coming years. Assuming a successful launch, the observatory will head more than 625,000 kilometers (one million miles) from Earth, to the L2 Lagrange point, above the nighttime side of our planet. There, it will join the Planck Space Observatory and the Herschel Space Telescope.

    Sporting a mirror eight meters (25 feet) in diameter, the Webb Telescope will be capable of collecting images and data from the first stars and galaxies which came into being. This instrument will unravel some of the deepest mysteries of all about the earliest eras of the Cosmos, utilizing the largest mirror ever sent into space.

    Once Webb opens its magnificent golden eye to space, the observatory will study the oldest, most distant objects in the Cosmos in infrared light, and assist in the search for exoplanets which could be home to extraterrestrial life.

    Like so much in life, as well as science, blame for setbacks cannot be placed on the shoulders of a single person or organization. We have seen, time and again, how NASA delivers science unparalleled by any other organization in the world.

    Once the James Webb Space Telescope launches aboard an Ariane 5 rocket, the science it delivers will revolutionize our knowledge of the Universe. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait too much longer for the most-advanced telescope in the history of the world to open our view of the deepest reaches of the Cosmos.

    One thing that is certain — when the science starts pouring in, it will be worth the wait.

    [Totally ignored in this article is the contribution of money and technology for Webb by ESA and CSA. We are far beyond the point of allowable failure to launch Webb.]

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The James Webb Space Telescope will be a large infrared telescope with a 6.5-meter primary mirror. Launch is planned for later in the decade.

    Webb telescope will be the premier observatory of the next decade, serving thousands of astronomers worldwide. It will study every phase in the history of our Universe, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own Solar System.

    Webb telescope was formerly known as the “Next Generation Space Telescope” (NGST); it was renamed in Sept. 2002 after a former NASA administrator, James Webb.

    Webb is an international collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). The NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is managing the development effort. The main industrial partner is Northrop Grumman; the Space Telescope Science Institute will operate Webb after launch.

    Several innovative technologies have been developed for Webb. These include a folding, segmented primary mirror, adjusted to shape after launch; ultra-lightweight beryllium optics; detectors able to record extremely weak signals, microshutters that enable programmable object selection for the spectrograph; and a cryocooler for cooling the mid-IR detectors to 7K.

    There will be four science instruments on Webb: the Near InfraRed Camera (NIRCam), the Near InfraRed Spectrograph (NIRspec), the Mid-InfraRed Instrument (MIRI), and the Fine Guidance Sensor/ Near InfraRed Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (FGS-NIRISS). Webb’s instruments will be designed to work primarily in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum, with some capability in the visible range. It will be sensitive to light from 0.6 to 28 micrometers in wavelength.

    NASA Webb NIRCam

    NASA Webb NIRspec

    NASA Webb MIRI

    CSA Webb Fine Guidance Sensor-Near InfraRed Imager and Slitless Spectrograph FGS/NIRISS


    Webb has four main science themes: The End of the Dark Ages: First Light and Reionization, The Assembly of Galaxies, The Birth of Stars and Protoplanetary Systems, and Planetary Systems and the Origins of Life.

    Launch is scheduled for later in the decade on an Ariane 5 rocket. The launch will be from Arianespace’s ELA-3 launch complex at European Spaceport located near Kourou, French Guiana. Webb will be located at the second Lagrange point, about a million miles from the Earth.

    NASA image

    ESA50 Logo large

    Canadian Space Agency

     
  • richardmitnick 9:30 pm on October 2, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , NASA/ESA/CSA Webb, , ,   

    From Science: “Cosmic conundrum: The disks of gas and dust that supposedly form planets don’t seem to have the goods” 

    AAAS
    From Science Magazine

    1
    Artist’s illustration of the protoplanetary disk surrounding a young star. JPL-Caltech/NASA

    Astronomers have a problem on their hands: How can you make planets if you don’t have enough of the building blocks? A new study finds that protoplanetary disks—the envelopes of dust and gas around young stars that give rise to planets—seem to contain orders of magnitude too little material to produce the planets.

    “This work is telling us that we really have to rethink our planetary formation theories,” says astronomer Gijs Mulders of the University of Chicago in Illinois, who was not involved in the research.

    Stars are born from colossal clouds of gas and dust and, in their earliest stages, are surrounded by a thin disk of material. Dust grains within this halo collide, sometimes sticking together. The clumps build up into planetary cores, which are big enough to gravitationally attract additional dust and gas, eventually forming planets.

    But many details about this process remain unknown, such as just how quickly planets arise from the disk, and how efficient they are in capturing material. The disks, surrounded by an obscuring haze of gas and dust, are difficult to observe. But radio telescopes can penetrate the haze and investigate young stars. The brightness of radio waves emitted by dust in the disk can be used to give a reasonable estimate of its overall mass.

    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array in Chile in the Atacama at Chajnantor plateau, at 5,000 metres

    The Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), a radio observatory in the Atacama Desert in Chile, has made it far easier to study protoplanetary disks. In the new study, astronomers led by Carlo Manara of the European Southern Observatory in Munich, Germany, used ALMA to compare the masses of protoplanetary disks around young stars between 1 million and 3 million years old to the masses of confirmed exoplanets and exoplanetary systems around older stars of equivalent size. The disk masses were often much less than the total exoplanet mass—sometimes 10 or 100 times lower, the team will report in an upcoming paper in Astronomy & Astrophysics.

    Although such findings have been reported before for a few star systems, the study is the first to point out the mismatch over several hundred different systems. “I think what this work does is really set this as a fact,” Manara says.

    It is possible that astronomers are simply looking at the disks too late. Perhaps some planets form in the first million years, sucking up much of the gas and dust, Manara says. ALMA has found that some extremely young stars, such as the approximately 100,000-year-old HL Tauri, already have ringlike gaps in their disks, potentially indicating that protoplanets are sweeping up material inside of them.

    “But if you solve one problem, you end up with another,” says astronomer Jonathan Williams of the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy in Honolulu, who was also not involved in the work. If planetary cores form early, when so much material remains in the disk, nothing would stop them from ballooning into Jupiter-size behemoths. Yet the emerging census of exoplanets shows that most are Earth- or Neptune-size worlds.

    Williams favors the idea that current telescopes are simply missing some of the material. ALMA’s wavelengths are tuned to best see the smallest bits of dust. But a great deal of mass, perhaps as much as 10 times what’s been observed, could be hidden in the form of pebbles, which are slightly too big to show up in such investigations. A proposed upgrade to the Very Large Array, a radio telescope in New Mexico, should be able to spot such hidden debris, perhaps accounting for some of the missing material.

    NRAO/Karl V Jansky Expanded Very Large Array, on the Plains of San Agustin fifty miles west of Socorro, NM, USA, at an elevation of 6970 ft (2124 m)

    One final possibility is that protoplanetary disks are somehow sucking in additional material from the surrounding interstellar medium. Manara says some recent simulations show young stars drawing in fresh material for much longer periods of time than previously believed. He hopes that observations of the earliest stages of star formation from the upcoming Square Kilometer Array or James Webb Space Telescope will help researchers decide between these different hypotheses.

    NASA/ESA/CSA Webb Telescope annotated

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

     
  • richardmitnick 11:01 am on September 13, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , BUFFALO charges towards the earliest galaxies, Caltech Buffalo, , , , , NASA/ESA/CSA Webb   

    From NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope: “BUFFALO charges towards the earliest galaxies” 

    NASA Hubble Banner

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    From NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    New Hubble project provides wide-field view of the galaxy cluster Abell 370.

    13 September 2018
    Charles Steinhardt
    Niels Bohr Institute
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    Tel: +45 35 33 50 10
    Email: Steinhardt@nbi.ku.dk

    Mathilde Jauzac
    Durham University
    Durham, UK
    Tel: +44 7445218614
    Email: mathilde.jauzac@durham.ac.uk

    Mathias Jäger
    ESA/Hubble, Public Information Officer
    Garching, Germany
    Tel: +49 176 62397500
    Email: mjaeger@partner.eso.org

    Ray Villard
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland
    410-338-4514
    villard@stsci.edu

    1
    The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has started a new mission to shed light on the evolution of the earliest galaxies in the Universe. The BUFFALO survey will observe six massive galaxy clusters and their surroundings. The first observations show the galaxy cluster Abell 370 and a host of magnified, gravitationally lensed galaxies around it.

    The universe is a big place. The Hubble Space Telescope’s views burrow deep into space and time, but cover an area a fraction the angular size of the full Moon. The challenge is that these “core samples” of the sky may not fully represent the universe at large. This dilemma for cosmologists is called cosmic variance. By expanding the survey area, such uncertainties in the structure of the universe can be reduced.

    A new Hubble observing campaign, called Beyond Ultra-deep Frontier Fields And Legacy Observations (BUFFALO)[Caltech], will boldly expand the space telescope’s view into regions that are adjacent to huge galaxy clusters previously photographed by NASA’s Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes under a program called Frontier Fields.

    The six massive clusters were used as “natural telescopes,” to look for amplified images of galaxies and supernovas that are so distant and faint that they could not be photographed by Hubble without the boost of light caused by a phenomenon called gravitational lensing. The clusters’ large masses, mainly composed of dark matter, magnify and distort the light coming from distant background galaxies that otherwise could not be detected. The BUFFALO program is designed to identify galaxies in their earliest stages of formation, less than 800 million years after the big bang.

    2

    BUFFALO’s view on Abell 370
    The galaxy cluster Abell 370 was the first target of the BUFFALO survey, which aims to search for some of the first galaxies in the Universe.
    This remarkable cluster in the constellation of Cetus is located approximately four billion light-years away. Its mass, consisting of both hundreds of galaxies and dark matter, bends and distorts the light coming from even more distant objects behind it. This effect is known as strong gravitational lensing.
    The most stunning demonstration of gravitational lensing can be seen just below the centre of the image. Nicknamed “the Dragon”, this extended feature is made up of a multitude of duplicated images of a spiral galaxy in the background of Abell 370 — all lying five billion light-years away. Credit: NASA, ESA, A. Koekemoer, M. Jauzac, C. Steinhardt, and the BUFFALO team

    3
    The last of the Frontier Fields — Abell 370
    With the final observation of the distant galaxy cluster Abell 370 — some five billion light-years away — the Frontier Fields program came to an end.
    Abell 370 is one of the very first galaxy clusters in which astronomers observed the phenomenon of gravitational lensing, the warping of spacetime by the cluster’s gravitational field that distorts the light from galaxies lying far behind it. This manifests as arcs and streaks in the picture, which are the stretched images of background galaxies.
    Credit: NASA/ESA Hubble, HST Frontier Fields

    4
    Comparison between Frontier Fields and BUFFALO
    This image composite shows the new observations of Abell 370 made for the BUFFALO project, as well as the old observation made for the Frontier Fields programme. The composition clearly shows the extended field of view in the new observations. Credit: NASA, ESA, A. Koekemoer, M. Jauzac, C. Steinhardt, the BUFFALO team and HST Frontier Fields.

    Learning about the formation and evolution of the very first galaxies in the Universe is crucial for our understanding of the cosmos. While the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has already detected some of the most distant galaxies known, their numbers are small, making it hard for astronomers to determine if they represent the Universe at large.

    Galaxy clusters

    The immense mass of galaxy clusters like Abell 370, mainly composed of the mysterious dark matter, bends and magnifies the light of these faraway objects, turning these clusters into natural telescopes.

    This gravitational lensing effect allows scientists to see further into space beyond the cluster, by capturing the light emitted by very distant and faint objects.

    The most stunning demonstration of gravitational lensing in Abell 370 can be seen just below the centre of the cluster. Nicknamed “The Dragon” this feature is a combination of five gravitationally lensed images of the same spiral galaxy that lies beyond the cluster.

    Although Hubble has already detected some of the Universe’s earliest galaxies through its Frontier Fields programme, these fields are relatively small and might not fully represent the number of early galaxies in the wider Universe.

    BUFFALO builds upon these observations using gravitational lensing, and will expand the search area around the six Frontier Fields previously observed by Hubble. Abell 370 is the first cluster to be observed.

    Dark matter assembly

    BUFFALO will investigate how and when the most massive and luminous galaxies in the Universe formed and how they are linked to dark matter assembly – the constraining effects of which are an essential factor in how the Universe looks today. The survey will also learn more about the evolution of lensing galaxy clusters and will give clues on the nature of dark matter.

    The first step is making a detailed a dark matter mass map of these massive galaxy clusters in order to measure exactly by how much the lensed galaxies are being magnified. The programme will determine how rapidly galaxies formed in the first 800 million years after the Big Bang – paving the way for observations with the upcoming NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope.

    NASA/ESA/CSA Webb Telescope annotated

    Massive galaxy clusters like Abell 370, which is visible in this new image, can help astronomers find more of these distant objects. The immense masses of galaxy clusters make them act as cosmic magnifying glasses. A cluster’s mass bends and magnifies light from more distant objects behind it, uncovering objects otherwise too faint for even Hubble’s sensitive vision. Using this cosmological trick — known as strong gravitational lensing — Hubble is able to explore some of the earliest and most distant galaxies in the Universe.

    Numerous galaxies are lensed by the mass of Abell 370. The most stunning demonstration of gravitational lensing can be seen just below the centre of the cluster. Nicknamed “the Dragon”, this extended feature is made up of a multitude of duplicated images of a spiral galaxy which lies beyond the cluster.

    This image of Abell 370 and its surroundings was made as part of the new Beyond Ultra-deep Frontier Fields And Legacy Observations (BUFFALO) survey. This project, led by European astronomers from the Niels Bohr Institute (Denmark) and Durham University (UK), was designed to succeed the successful Frontier Fields project [1]. 101 Hubble orbits — corresponding to 160 hours of precious observation time — have been dedicated to exploring the six Frontier Field galaxy clusters. These additional observations focus on the regions surrounding the galaxy clusters, allowing for a larger field of view.

    BUFFALO’s main mission, however, is to investigate how and when the most massive and luminous galaxies in the Universe formed and how early galaxy formation is linked to dark matter assembly. This will allow astronomers to determine how rapidly galaxies formed in the first 800 million years after the Big Bang — paving the way for observations with the upcoming NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope.

    Driven by the Frontier Fields observations, BUFFALO will be able to detect the most distant galaxies approximately ten times more efficiently than its progenitor. The BUFFALO survey will also take advantage of other space telescopes which have already observed the regions around the clusters. These datasets will be included in the search for the first galaxies.

    The extended fields of view will also allow better 3-dimensional mapping of the mass distribution — of both ordinary and dark matter — within each galaxy cluster. These maps help astronomers learn more about the evolution of the lensing galaxy clusters and about the nature of dark matter.
    Notes

    [1] Frontier Fields was a Hubble programme that ran from 2013 to 2017. Hubble spent 630 hours of observation time probing six notable galaxy clusters, all of which showed effects of strong gravitational lensing.


    This zoom starts with a ground-based view of the sky and zooms in on the distant galaxy cluster Abell 370, as seen by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The mass of the cluster is large enough to bend the light of more distant objects along the line of sight. This creates interesting distortions, fascinating arcs and it even magnifies objects which would otherwise be to faint and tiny to be seen by Hubble.
    More information and download options: http://www.spacetelescope.org/videos/… Credit: ESA/Hubble Music: Richard Hasbia “Stan Dart”


    To many, Hubble is best known for its stunning images of celestial objects, but among astronomers it is admired for the valuable data it delivers. Hubble has helped revolutionise astronomy, including shedding light on dark matter and dark energy, lifting the veil on black holes, and peering into the dusty regions around stars to image exoplanets.
    This new Hubblecast is the second part of an exploration of some of Hubble’s most important discoveries throughout its history. More information and download options: http://www.spacetelescope.org/videos/… Subscribe to Hubblecast in iTunes!
    https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/h…
    Receive future episodes on YouTube by pressing the Subscribe button above or follow us on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/hubbleesa Watch more Hubblecavideo.web_category.allst episodes: http://www.spacetelescope.org/videos/… Credit: Directed by: Mathias Jäger Visual design and editing: Martin Kornmesser Written by: Lauren Fuge, Tom Barratt, Mathias Jäger Narration: Sara Mendes da Costa Images: NASA, ESA/Hubble, M. Kornmesser, HST Frontier Fields team (STScI, Risinger, Guisard, Digitized Sky Survey 2, G. Bacon (STScI) Videos: NASA, ESA/Hubble, Hubble Heritage Team, CLUES – Constrained Local Universe Evolution Simulation Animations: NASA, ESA/Hubble, M. Kornmesser, L. Calçada, G. Bacon, L. Frattare, Z. Levay, F. Summers, J. Anderson Music: Johan B. Monell (www.johanmonell.com) Web and technical support: Mathias André and Raquel Yumi Shida Executive producer: Lars Lindberg Christensen

    See the Caltech BUFFALO Project Website here.

    See the full ESA article here .
    See the full NASA article here .
    See the full Durham University article here .


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    The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), is a free-standing science center, located on the campus of The Johns Hopkins University and operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) for NASA, conducts Hubble science operations.

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  • richardmitnick 4:15 pm on April 25, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NASA/ESA/CSA Webb, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Could Potentially Detect the First Stars and Black Holes   

    From Webb: “NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Could Potentially Detect the First Stars and Black Holes” 

    NASA Webb Header

    NASA Webb Telescope

    James Webb Space Telescope

    April 25, 2018

    Christine Pulliam
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, MD, USA
    Rogier Windhorst
    Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA

    Gravitational Lensing NASA/ESA

    One of the key science goals of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is to learn about “first light,” the moment when the first stars and galaxies lit the universe. While the first galaxies will be within Webb’s reach, individual stars shine so faintly that Webb would not be able to detect them without help. That help could come in the form of natural magnification from gravitational lensing, according to a new theoretical paper.

    NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Could Potentially Detect the First Stars and Black Holes
    Gravitational lensing by a galaxy cluster could bring the early universe into focus for Webb

    A cluster of galaxies can provide the needed gravitational oomph to bring distant objects into focus via lensing. Typical gravitational lensing can boost a target’s brightness by a factor of 10 to 20. But in special circumstances, the light of a faraway star could be amplified by 10,000 times or more.

    If Webb monitors several galaxy clusters a couple of times a year over its lifetime, chances are good that it will detect such a magnified star, or possibly the accretion disk of a black hole from the same era. This would give astronomers a key opportunity to learn about the actual properties of the early universe and compare them to computer models.

    The first stars in the universe blazed to life about 200 to 400 million years after the big bang. Observing those very first individual stars across such vast distances of space normally would be a feat beyond any space telescope. However, new theoretical work suggests that under the right circumstances, and with a little luck, NASA’s upcoming James Webb Space Telescope will be able to capture light from single stars within that first generation of stars.

    “Looking for the first stars and black holes has long been a goal of astronomy. They will tell us about the actual properties of the very early universe, things we’ve only modeled on our computers until now,” said Rogier Windhorst of Arizona State University, Tempe. Windhorst is lead author of the paper that appeared in the Astrophysical Journal Supplement on February 14, 2018.

    “We want to answer questions about the early universe such as, were binary stars common or were most stars single? How many heavy chemical elements were produced, cooked up by the very first stars, and how did those first stars effect star formation?” added co-author Frank Timmes of Arizona State University.

    The key will be to look for a star that has been gravitationally lensed, its light bent and magnified by the gravity of an intervening galaxy cluster. But not just any gravitational lensing will do. Typical gravitational lensing can magnify light by a factor of 10 to 20 times, not enough to make a first-generation star visible to Webb.

    3
    This diagram illustrates how rays of light from a distant galaxy or star can be bent by the gravity of an intervening galaxy cluster. As a result, an observer on Earth sees the distant object appear brighter than it would look if it weren’t gravitationally lensed. CREDIT: NASA, ESA, and A. Feild and F. Summers (STScI)

    But if the distant star and closer galaxy cluster line up just right, the star’s light can be amplified 10,000 times or more, bringing it within the realm of detectability. This could be done via so-called cluster caustic transits, where the light from a first star candidate could be enormously magnified for a few months due to the motion of the galaxy cluster across the sky.

    The chances of such a precise alignment are small, but not zero. Astronomers recently announced that Hubble spotted a super-magnified star known as “Icarus.” Although it was the farthest single star ever seen, it was much closer than the stars Webb might locate. With Webb, the team hopes to find a lensed example of a star that formed from the primordial mix of hydrogen and helium that suffused the early universe, which astronomers call Population III stars.

    In addition to the first stars, Windhorst and his colleagues investigated the possibility of seeing accretion disks surrounding the first black holes. Such a black hole, formed by the cataclysmic death of a massive star, could shine brightly if it pulled gas from a companion star.

    The longer an object shines, the more likely it will drift into alignment with a gravitational lens. First-generation stars are expected to have been both massive and short-lived, lasting for just a few million years before exploding as supernovae. In contrast, a black hole stripping a companion star could shine for 10 times longer, feeding from a steady stream of gas. As a result, Webb might detect more black hole accretion disks than early stars.

    The team calculates that an observing program that targets several galaxy clusters a couple of times a year for the lifetime of Webb could succeed in finding a lensed first star or black hole accretion disk. They have already selected some of the best target clusters, including the Hubble Frontier Fields clusters and the cluster known as “El Gordo.”

    “We just have to get lucky and observe these clusters long enough,” said Windhorst. “The astronomical community would need to continue to monitor these clusters during Webb’s lifetime.”

    The authors of the Astrophysical Journal Supplement paper are R. Windhorst and F. Timmes (Arizona State University), S. Wyithe (University of Melbourne), M. Alpaslan (New York University), S. Andrews (The University of Western Australia), D. Coe (Space Telescope Science Institute), J. Diego (IFCA), M. Dijkstra (University of Oslo), S. Driver (The University of Western Australia), P. Kelly (University of Minnesota, Twin Cities), and D. Kim (Arizona State University).

    ______________________________________________________________
    The James Webb Space Telescope will be the world’s premier space science observatory. Webb will solve mysteries of our solar system, look beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probe the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it. Webb is an international project led by NASA with its partners, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).
    ______________________________________________________________

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The James Webb Space Telescope will be a large infrared telescope with a 6.5-meter primary mirror. Launch is planned for later in the decade.

    Webb telescope will be the premier observatory of the next decade, serving thousands of astronomers worldwide. It will study every phase in the history of our Universe, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own Solar System.

    Webb telescope was formerly known as the “Next Generation Space Telescope” (NGST); it was renamed in Sept. 2002 after a former NASA administrator, James Webb.

    Webb is an international collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). The NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is managing the development effort. The main industrial partner is Northrop Grumman; the Space Telescope Science Institute will operate Webb after launch.

    Several innovative technologies have been developed for Webb. These include a folding, segmented primary mirror, adjusted to shape after launch; ultra-lightweight beryllium optics; detectors able to record extremely weak signals, microshutters that enable programmable object selection for the spectrograph; and a cryocooler for cooling the mid-IR detectors to 7K.

    There will be four science instruments on Webb: the Near InfraRed Camera (NIRCam), the Near InfraRed Spectrograph (NIRspec), the Mid-InfraRed Instrument (MIRI), and the Fine Guidance Sensor/ Near InfraRed Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (FGS-NIRISS). Webb’s instruments will be designed to work primarily in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum, with some capability in the visible range. It will be sensitive to light from 0.6 to 28 micrometers in wavelength.

    NASA Webb NIRCam

    NASA Webb NIRspec

    NASA Webb MIRI

    CSA Webb Fine Guidance Sensor-Near InfraRed Imager and Slitless Spectrograph FGS/NIRISS


    Webb has four main science themes: The End of the Dark Ages: First Light and Reionization, The Assembly of Galaxies, The Birth of Stars and Protoplanetary Systems, and Planetary Systems and the Origins of Life.

    Launch is scheduled for later in the decade on an Ariane 5 rocket. The launch will be from Arianespace’s ELA-3 launch complex at European Spaceport located near Kourou, French Guiana. Webb will be located at the second Lagrange point, about a million miles from the Earth.

    NASA image

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    Canadian Space Agency

     
  • richardmitnick 12:10 pm on January 4, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , CSA Webb Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS), NASA Webb Near Infrared Imager NIRCam, NASA/ESA/CSA Webb   

    From NASA Webb: “NASA’s Webb Telescope to Investigate Mysterious Brown Dwarfs” 

    NASA Webb Header

    NASA Webb Telescope

    James Webb Space Telescope

    Jan. 4, 2018
    Leah Ramsay
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md.

    Twinkle, twinkle, little star, how I wonder what you are. Astronomers are hopeful that the powerful infrared capability of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will resolve a puzzle as fundamental as stargazing itself — what IS that dim light in the sky? Brown dwarfs muddy a clear distinction between stars and planets, throwing established understanding of those bodies, and theories of their formation, into question.

    1
    Stellar cluster NGC 1333 is home to a large number of brown dwarfs. Astronomers will use Webb’s powerful infrared instruments to learn more about these dim cousins to the cluster’s bright newborn stars. Credits: NASA/CXC/JPL

    Several research teams will use Webb to explore the mysterious nature of brown dwarfs, looking for insight into both star formation and exoplanet atmospheres, and the hazy territory in-between where the brown dwarf itself exists. Previous work with Hubble, Spitzer, and ALMA have shown that brown dwarfs can be up to 70 times more massive than gas giants like Jupiter, yet they do not have enough mass for their cores to burn nuclear fuel and radiate starlight.

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    NASA/Spitzer Infrared Telescope

    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array in Chile in the Atacama at Chajnantor plateau, at 5,000 metres

    Though brown dwarfs were theorized in the 1960s and confirmed in 1995, there is not an accepted explanation of how they form: like a star, by the contraction of gas, or like a planet, by the accretion of material in a protoplanetary disk? Some have a companion relationship with a star, while others drift alone in space.

    At the Université de Montréal, Étienne Artigau leads a team that will use Webb to study a specific brown dwarf, labeled SIMP0136.

    2
    SIMP0136+0933. http://www.exoplanetkyoto.org

    It is a low-mass, young, isolated brown dwarf — one of the closest to our Sun — all of which make it fascinating for study, as it has many features of a planet without being too close to the blinding light of a star. SIMP0136 was the object of a past scientific breakthrough by Artigau and his team, when they found evidence suggesting it has a cloudy atmosphere. He and his colleagues will use Webb’s spectroscopic instruments to learn more about the chemical elements and compounds in those clouds.

    “Very accurate spectroscopic measurements are challenging to obtain from the ground in the infrared due to variable absorption in our own atmosphere, hence the need for space-based infrared observation. Also, Webb allows us to probe features, such as water absorption, that are inaccessible from the ground at this level of precision,” Artigau explains.

    2
    Artist’s conception of a brown dwarf, featuring the cloudy atmosphere of a planet and the residual light of an almost-star. Credits: NASA/ESA/JPL

    These observations could lay groundwork for future exoplanet exploration with Webb, including which worlds could support life. Webb’s infrared instruments will be capable of detecting the types of molecules in the atmospheres of exoplanets by seeing which elements are absorbing light as the planet passes in front of its star, a scientific technique known as transit spectroscopy.

    “The brown dwarf SIMP0136 has the same temperature as various planets that will be observed in transit spectroscopy with Webb, and clouds are known to affect this type of measurement; our observations will help us better understand cloud decks in brown dwarfs and planet atmospheres in general,” Artigau says.

    The search for low-mass, isolated brown dwarfs was one of the early science goals put forward for the Webb telescope in the 1990s, says astronomer Aleks Scholz of the University of St. Andrews. Brown dwarfs have a lower mass than stars and do not “shine” but merely emit the dim afterglow of their birth, and so they are best seen in infrared light, which is why Webb will be such a valuable tool in this research.

    Scholz, who also leads the Substellar Objects in Nearby Young Clusters (SONYC) project, will use Webb’s Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS) to study NGC 1333 in the constellation of Perseus. NGC 1333 is a stellar nursery that has also been found to harbor an unusually high number of brown dwarfs, some of them at the very low end of the mass range for such objects – in other words, not much heavier than Jupiter.

    4
    NASA Webb Near Infrared Imager NIRCam

    5
    CSA Webb Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS)

    3
    Dusty NGC 1333 is seen as a reflection nebula in visible light images, sporting bluish hues characteristic of starlight reflected by dust. But at longer infrared wavelengths, the interstellar dust itself glows – shown in red in this false-color Spitzer Space Telescope image. The penetrating infrared view also shows youthful stars that would otherwise still be obscured by the dusty clouds which formed them. Notably, greenish streaks and splotches that seem to litter the region trace the glow of cosmic jets blasting away from emerging young stellar objects as the jets plow into the cold cloud material. In all, the chaotic scene likely resembles one in which our own Sun formed over 4.5 billion years ago. NGC 1333 is a mere 1,000 light-years distant in the constellation Perseus.

    “In more than a decade of searching, our team has found it is very difficult to locate brown dwarfs that are less than five Jupiter-masses – the mass where star and planet formation overlap. That is a job for the Webb telescope,” Scholz says. “It has been a long wait for Webb, but we are very excited to get an opportunity to break new ground and potentially discover an entirely new type of planets, unbound, roaming the Galaxy like stars.”

    Both of the projects led by Scholz and Artigau are making use of Guaranteed Time Observations (GTOs), observing time on the telescope that is granted to astronomers who have worked for years to prepare Webb’s scientific operations.

    The James Webb Space Telescope, the scientific complement to NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, will be the premier space observatory of the next decade. Webb is an international project led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency).

    For more information about the Webb telescope, visit http://www.nasa.gov/webb or http://www.webbtelescope.org

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The James Webb Space Telescope will be a large infrared telescope with a 6.5-meter primary mirror. Launch is planned for later in the decade.

    Webb telescope will be the premier observatory of the next decade, serving thousands of astronomers worldwide. It will study every phase in the history of our Universe, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own Solar System.

    Webb telescope was formerly known as the “Next Generation Space Telescope” (NGST); it was renamed in Sept. 2002 after a former NASA administrator, James Webb.

    Webb is an international collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). The NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is managing the development effort. The main industrial partner is Northrop Grumman; the Space Telescope Science Institute will operate Webb after launch.

    Several innovative technologies have been developed for Webb. These include a folding, segmented primary mirror, adjusted to shape after launch; ultra-lightweight beryllium optics; detectors able to record extremely weak signals, microshutters that enable programmable object selection for the spectrograph; and a cryocooler for cooling the mid-IR detectors to 7K.

    There will be four science instruments on Webb: the Near InfraRed Camera (NIRCam), the Near InfraRed Spectrograph (NIRspec), the Mid-InfraRed Instrument (MIRI), and the Fine Guidance Sensor/ Near InfraRed Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (FGS-NIRISS). Webb’s instruments will be designed to work primarily in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum, with some capability in the visible range. It will be sensitive to light from 0.6 to 28 micrometers in wavelength.
    Webb has four main science themes: The End of the Dark Ages: First Light and Reionization, The Assembly of Galaxies, The Birth of Stars and Protoplanetary Systems, and Planetary Systems and the Origins of Life.

    Launch is scheduled for later in the decade on an Ariane 5 rocket. The launch will be from Arianespace’s ELA-3 launch complex at European Spaceport located near Kourou, French Guiana. Webb will be located at the second Lagrange point, about a million miles from the Earth.

    NASA image

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    Canadian Space Agency

     
  • richardmitnick 3:14 pm on January 1, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , NASA/ESA/CSA Webb   

    From Webb: Three articles 

    NASA Webb Header

    NASA Webb Telescope

    James Webb Space Telescope

    1. How Do We Know There Are Black Holes?


    Motion of “S2” and other stars around the central Black Hole
    An international team of astronomers, lead by researchers at the Max-Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE), has directly observed an otherwise normal star orbiting the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy.

    S2 was followed closely over a period of years by Andrea Ghez, UCLA, on the UCO/Caltech Keck telescope.

    Keck Observatory, Maunakea, Hawaii, USA.4,207 m (13,802 ft), above sea level, showing also NASA’s IRTF and NAOJ Subaru

    Black holes are among the most mysterious and fascinating features of the universe, captivating scientists since the 18th century, including Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking. They are often described as consuming their surrounding gas, the result of gravity so intense that nothing can escape its pull, not even the fastest known traveler in the universe: light itself. But if black holes don’t emit or reflect light, which means we can’t see them, how do astronomers know they are there?

    The answer actually applies to many subjects studied in physics and deep-space astronomy—when you can’t observe something directly, or you can’t explain something you are seeing, you make educated guesses based on what you do see: the effect on other objects. On Earth, you can know it’s a windy day without stepping outside, because a flag is flapping. Astronomers know there is a black hole when the stars or gas around it are distorted or otherwise changed. These effects show up in a few ways.

    Astronomers can observe a star accelerating in orbit around an unseen companion, rather than a detectable binary companion star (see video above). By measuring the orbiting star’s rate of acceleration, astronomers can calculate the mass of the object pulling on it; when this mass is so large that nothing else can explain it, astronomers conclude it is a black hole.

    In other instances, X-ray telescopes can observe electromagnetic radiation from a star that comes close to a black hole and is pulled apart by its gravity.

    NASA/Chandra Telescope

    ESA/XMM Newton X-ray telescope

    NASA NuSTAR X-ray telescope

    These black holes accumulate cosmic matter around themselves in a swirling pattern called an accretion disk. Gas particles in the disc accelerate and collide, heating to millions of degrees and giving off the detectable X-rays.

    Black holes causing these types of phenomena are at least three times the mass of the Sun and are classified as stellar black holes.

    On a larger scale, supermassive black holes have a mass of more than one million Suns, and so must develop and grow very differently than stellar black holes. According to observations of intense gravitational attraction and energy in the center of galaxies made by the Hubble Space Telescope since the early 1990s, there is evidence for supermassive black holes at the heart of nearly all large galaxies, including our Milky Way.

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    With greater mass and thus greater gravity, supermassive black holes attract more matter that becomes hotter and more volatile. In some cases this super-heated matter shoots off into the universe as jets of gas that can be millions of light-years long. Astronomers have observed these gas ejections, known as outflow, and see it as a way of regulating galaxy expansion and the birth of new stars.

    To see the dynamic dance of dust, stars, and gas clouds being shred apart and falling into a black hole, astronomers need powerful telescopes. Hubble made significant progress in confirming and studying galactic supermassive black holes.The James Webb Space Telescope’s powerful infrared instruments will see through the cosmic dust and analyze the details of outflow, providing new information about this process and its role in galaxy evolution.

    NASA/ESA/CSA Webb Telescope annotated

    Webb mirror compared to Hubble mirror

    Webb will also be able to “see” deeper into space, and thus further back in time, to the formation of the first stars, galaxies, and perhaps black holes. Astronomers think early black holes developed at a much faster rate than black holes that are closer/more recent, which means observing these earlier cosmic citizens would shed light on the nature of their descendants, our neighbors we know well and have studied for decades.

    2. Webb and the Infancy of the Universe


    The Great Photon Escape
    In a flash known as the Big Bang, our universe was born. Yet for hundreds of thousands of years, light from the Big Bang was scattered and trapped in a dense fog. Eventually, though, that light made its “great escape” and the universe was plunged into total darkness. These cosmic “Dark Ages” lasted for millions of years until the first stars and galaxies burst to life and began to illuminate the universe. However, no one knows just when this happened, or what the earliest stars and galaxies were really like, because we’ve never seen them. The Webb telescope will use its powerful infrared vision to spy the very first stars and galaxies forming out of the darkness of the early universe and help us understand how today’s universe came to be.

    The era of the universe called the “Dark Ages” is as mysterious as its name implies.

    Shortly after the Big Bang, the universe was filled with a glowing plasma, or ionized gas. As the universe cooled and expanded, electrons and protons began to bind together to form neutral hydrogen atoms. As the last of the light from the Big Bang escaped, the universe — now about 378,000 years old — would have been a dark place, with no sources of light to illuminate its fog of cooling, neutral hydrogen gas.

    Some of that gas would have begun coalescing into dense clumps, pulled together by gravity. As these clumps grew larger and denser, they would become stars, and eventually, galaxies. Slowly, light would begin to shine again in the universe. Eventually, as the early stars grew in numbers and brightness, they would have emitted enough ultraviolet radiation to “reionize” the hydrogen, removing the electrons from their bonded protons and neutrons.

    3
    Matter in the early universe slowly accumulated into larger structures, from molecules and clouds of molecular gas to stars and eventually galaxies. Radiation from these early cosmic objects would eventually begin the time of the universe known as “reionization.” Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center and the Advanced Visualization Laboratory at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications.

    Reionization era and first stars, Caltech

    Webb, with its ability to see light from extremely distant objects that has had to travel for billions of years to reach us, will see some of the universe’s first objects. As Webb observes light that’s traveled from the far reaches of the cosmos, it captures images of distant stars and forming galaxies as they were in the earliest stages of the universe.

    Astronomers know the universe became reionized because when they look out in space and back in time at the light of very distant quasars — incredibly bright objects thought to be powered by supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies — they don’t see the dimming of their light that would occur through a fog of neutral hydrogen gas. They find clouds of hydrogen, but almost no detectable clouds of neutral hydrogen drifting between galaxies, meaning the gas was at some point reionized. Exactly when this occurred is one of the questions Webb will help answer, by looking for glimpses of very distant objects, like quasars, still dimmed by neutral hydrogen gas.

    4
    The Hubble Ultra Deep Field is a look back in space and time that captures an estimated 10,000 galaxies in various stages of evolution, back to within 500 million years of the Big Bang. Webb’s infrared vision will allow it to reach back even farther, to see the very first stars and galaxies.

    Cosmic Conundrums

    Much remains to be uncovered about the time of reionization. The universe right after the Big Bang would have consisted of hydrogen, helium, and a small amount of lithium. But the stars we see today also contain heavier elements — elements that are created inside stars. So how did those first stars form from such limited ingredients? Webb will not be able to see the very first stars of the Dark Ages, but it’ll witness the generation immediately following, and analyze the kinds of materials they contain.

    Webb will also show us how early galaxies formed from those first clumps of stars. The universe’s first stars, believed to be 30 to 300 times as massive as our Sun and millions of times as bright, would have burned for only a few million years before dying in tremendous explosions, or “supernovae.” These explosions spewed the recently manufactured chemical elements of stars outward into the universe before the expiring stars collapsed into black holes or dim, cinder-like cores.

    Scientists suspect the black holes born from the explosion of the earliest stars devoured gas and stars around them, becoming the extremely bright objects called “mini-quasars.” The mini-quasars, in turn, may have grown and merged to become the huge black holes found in the centers of present-day galaxies. Webb will try to find and understand these supernovae and mini-quasars to put theories of early universe formation to the test.

    Webb will show us whether the first galaxies formed along filaments and webs of dark matter, as expected, and when. Right now we know the first galaxies formed anywhere from 378,000 years to 400 million years after the Big Bang. Many models have been created to explain which era gave rise to galaxies, but Webb will pinpoint the precise time period.

    3.Webb and the Universe

    5
    The collision of the Antennae galaxies triggered the formation of millions of stars in clouds of gas and dust within the galaxies. Infrared observations in this image show warm dust clouds heated by newborn stars, with the brightest clouds lying in the overlapping region between the galaxies.

    When we look out into the universe, we see galaxies with magnificent spiraling arms and galaxies that glow like giant lightbulbs. But these spiral and elliptical galaxies weren’t born in these familiar shapes. Galaxies in the early universe were probably small and clumpy. So how did these modest groups of stars evolve into the grand structures we see today?

    When telescopes peer into the universe, they look back in time. The reason is simple — light needs time to travel through space. Even the light from the Moon is 1.3 seconds old when it arrives on Earth. The most distant galaxies Hubble has spied are more than 13 billion light-years away. That means the light Hubble captures left those galaxies over 13 billion years ago.

    But there’s another complication. As the universe expands, light gets stretched into longer and longer wavelengths, turning visible light into infrared light. By the time visible light from extremely distant galaxies reaches us, it appears as infrared light. Hubble can detect some infrared light — the wavelengths closest to the red end of the visible spectrum. But infrared light will be the Webb telescope’s specialty.

    Where Hubble sees young galaxies, Webb will show us newborns. Webb will capture the earliest stages of galaxy formation, and perhaps even reveal when galaxies first started forming in the universe. Webb could show how small galaxies in the early universe merged to form larger galaxies. Finally, Webb will see more of the ordinary early galaxies, where Hubble only sees the brightest outliers. This expanded sample of early galaxies will give astronomers a better idea of how galaxies really looked as they first came into being, and help to map the universe’s overall structure.

    The Hidden Universe

    Webb’s infrared prowess will also allow it to see inside dust-cloaked regions of galaxies that visible light cannot escape from, and find out what’s happening within them. For many different types and ages of galaxies, Webb will expose how stars are forming, how many stars are forming, and how star formation is affected by the surrounding environment. Webb will study star-birth regions in merging galaxies, revealing how these galactic encounters trigger and alter the course of star formation as their gaseous components collide and mix. Webb will analyze how elements are produced and distributed in galaxies, and also examine the exchange of material between galaxies and the space between them.

    Webb will also explore an era known as the Dark Ages and the time immediately following it, the period of reionization. About 378,000 years after the Big Bang, as the universe cooled and expanded, electrons and protons began to bind together to form hydrogen atoms. As the last of the light from the Big Bang faded, the universe would have been a dark place, with no sources of light within the cooling hydrogen gas.

    6
    Light must travel through space over time. As telescopes capture light emanating from objects in the distant universe, they observe different stages of development. Webb’s infrared vision will allow it to see the first stars and galaxies to develop after the Big Bang.

    Eventually the gas would have coalesced to form stars and eventually galaxies. Over time, most of the hydrogen was “reionized,” turning it back into protons and electrons and allowing light to travel across space once again. Astronomers are currently unsure whether the energy responsible for reionization came from stars in the early forming galaxies, hot gas surrounding massive black holes, or some even more exotic source such as decaying dark matter. Webb’s infrared capabilities will allow it to identify the sources that gave rise to reionization. And perhaps Webb will see the stars and bright galaxies called “quasars” that unleashed enough energy to re-illuminate the universe.

    7
    Hubble’s eXtreme Deep Field image combines a decade of Hubble observations, including some taken in infrared light, to create one of the deepest pictures of the universe ever taken, spanning 13.2 billion years of galaxy formation. About 5,000 galaxies appear in this image.

    See the full article starting here but continuing .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    The James Webb Space Telescope will be a large infrared telescope with a 6.5-meter primary mirror. Launch is planned for later in the decade.

    Webb telescope will be the premier observatory of the next decade, serving thousands of astronomers worldwide. It will study every phase in the history of our Universe, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own Solar System.

    Webb telescope was formerly known as the “Next Generation Space Telescope” (NGST); it was renamed in Sept. 2002 after a former NASA administrator, James Webb.

    Webb is an international collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). The NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is managing the development effort. The main industrial partner is Northrop Grumman; the Space Telescope Science Institute will operate Webb after launch.

    Several innovative technologies have been developed for Webb. These include a folding, segmented primary mirror, adjusted to shape after launch; ultra-lightweight beryllium optics; detectors able to record extremely weak signals, microshutters that enable programmable object selection for the spectrograph; and a cryocooler for cooling the mid-IR detectors to 7K.

    There will be four science instruments on Webb: the Near InfraRed Camera (NIRCam), the Near InfraRed Spectrograph (NIRspec), the Mid-InfraRed Instrument (MIRI), and the Fine Guidance Sensor/ Near InfraRed Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (FGS-NIRISS). Webb’s instruments will be designed to work primarily in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum, with some capability in the visible range. It will be sensitive to light from 0.6 to 28 micrometers in wavelength.
    Webb has four main science themes: The End of the Dark Ages: First Light and Reionization, The Assembly of Galaxies, The Birth of Stars and Protoplanetary Systems, and Planetary Systems and the Origins of Life.

    Launch is scheduled for later in the decade on an Ariane 5 rocket. The launch will be from Arianespace’s ELA-3 launch complex at European Spaceport located near Kourou, French Guiana. Webb will be located at the second Lagrange point, about a million miles from the Earth.

    NASA image

    ESA50 Logo large

    Canadian Space Agency

     
  • richardmitnick 11:00 am on November 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , NASA/ESA/CSA Webb, The Space Telescope Science Institute is announcing some of the first science programs NASA's James Webb Space Telescope will conduct following its launch and commissioning   

    From James Webb Space Telescope via HubbleSite: “NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Early Science Observations Revealed” 

    NASA Webb Header

    NASA Webb Telescope

    James Webb Space Telescope

    NASA Hubble Banner

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    Nov 13, 2017
    Christine Pulliam
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland
    410-338-4366
    cpulliam@stsci.edu

    Ray Villard
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland
    410-338-4514
    villard@stsci.edu

    1
    First Publicly Available Science Observations for Webb Announced
    The Space Telescope Science Institute is announcing some of the first science programs NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will conduct following its launch and commissioning. These specific observations are part of a program of Director’s Discretionary Early Release Science (DD-ERS), which will provide the scientific community with immediate access to Webb data. These data will help inform proposals for observations in the second year of Webb operations. The 13 ERS programs will address a broad variety of science areas, from black hole growth and the assembly of galaxies to star formation and the study of exoplanets.

    Astronomers around the world will have immediate access to early data from specific science observations from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, which will be completed within the first five months of Webb’s science operations. These observing programs were chosen from a Space Telescope Science Institute call for early release science proposals, and include examining Jupiter and its moons, searching for organic molecules forming around infant stars, weighing supermassive black holes lurking in galactic cores, and hunting for baby galaxies born in the early universe.

    “I’m thrilled to see the list of astronomers’ most fascinating targets for the Webb telescope, and extremely eager to see the results. We fully expect to be surprised by what we find,” said Dr. John C. Mather, Senior Project Scientist for the Webb telescope and Senior Astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland.

    The resulting observations will comprise the Director’s Discretionary Early Release Science (DD-ERS), and cover the gamut of Webb science targets, from planets in our solar system to the most distant galaxies. The program provides the entire scientific community with immediate access to Webb data so they have the opportunity to analyze the data and plan follow-up observations.

    “We were impressed by the high quality of the proposals received,” said Dr. Ken Sembach, Director of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland. “These observing programs not only will generate great science, but also will be a unique resource for demonstrating the investigative capabilities of this extraordinary observatory to the worldwide scientific community.”

    The observations will also exercise all four of Webb’s science instruments, so that the astronomical community can explore Webb’s full potential. Webb has a minimum scientific lifetime of five years, so the scientific community will have to rapidly learn to use its advanced capabilities.

    “We want the research community to be as scientifically productive as possible, as early as possible, which is why I am so pleased to be able to dedicate nearly 500 hours of director’s discretionary time to these ERS observations,” said Sembach.

    One of the most widely anticipated areas of research by Webb is to study planets orbiting other stars. When such an exoplanet passes in front of its host star, starlight filters through the planet’s atmosphere, which absorbs certain colors of light depending on the chemical composition. Webb will measure this absorption, using its powerful infrared spectrographs, to look for the chemical fingerprints of the atmosphere’s gasses. Astronomers initially will train their gaze onto gaseous Jupiter-sized worlds like WASP-39b and WASP-43b because they are easier targets on which to apply this technique. The results will help guide observing strategies for smaller, mostly rocky and more Earth-like super-Earths, where atmospheric composition may give hints of a planet’s potential habitability.

    Webb also will peer into the distant universe, examining galaxies whose light has been stretched into infrared wavelengths by the expansion of space. This infrared region is beyond what Hubble can detect. Galaxy clusters are particularly rich sources of targets, since a cluster’s gravity can magnify light from more distant background galaxies. DD-ERS observations will target regions of the sky already examined by Hubble’s Frontier Fields program, such as the galaxy cluster MACS J0717.5+3745. Webb data will complement Hubble’s, giving astronomers new insights into these cornucopias of galaxies.

    Since Webb must remain shielded from sunlight, its field of view is limited to specific areas of the sky at certain times of year. As a result, the potential targets listed above may shift depending on the launch date.

    More than 100 proposals for DD-ERS observations were submitted in August 2017. Of those, 13 programs requesting 460 hours of telescope time were selected following review by panels of subject matter experts and the STScI director.

    Additional information about the selected DD-ERS proposals is available online.

    The James Webb Space Telescope, the scientific complement to NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, will be the premier space observatory of the next decade.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The James Webb Space Telescope will be a large infrared telescope with a 6.5-meter primary mirror. Launch is planned for later in the decade.

    Webb telescope will be the premier observatory of the next decade, serving thousands of astronomers worldwide. It will study every phase in the history of our Universe, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own Solar System.

    Webb telescope was formerly known as the “Next Generation Space Telescope” (NGST); it was renamed in Sept. 2002 after a former NASA administrator, James Webb.

    Webb is an international collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). The NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is managing the development effort. The main industrial partner is Northrop Grumman; the Space Telescope Science Institute will operate Webb after launch.

    Several innovative technologies have been developed for Webb. These include a folding, segmented primary mirror, adjusted to shape after launch; ultra-lightweight beryllium optics; detectors able to record extremely weak signals, microshutters that enable programmable object selection for the spectrograph; and a cryocooler for cooling the mid-IR detectors to 7K.

    There will be four science instruments on Webb: the Near InfraRed Camera (NIRCam), the Near InfraRed Spectrograph (NIRspec), the Mid-InfraRed Instrument (MIRI), and the Fine Guidance Sensor/ Near InfraRed Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (FGS-NIRISS). Webb’s instruments will be designed to work primarily in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum, with some capability in the visible range. It will be sensitive to light from 0.6 to 28 micrometers in wavelength.
    Webb has four main science themes: The End of the Dark Ages: First Light and Reionization, The Assembly of Galaxies, The Birth of Stars and Protoplanetary Systems, and Planetary Systems and the Origins of Life.

    Launch is scheduled for later in the decade on an Ariane 5 rocket. The launch will be from Arianespace’s ELA-3 launch complex at European Spaceport located near Kourou, French Guiana. Webb will be located at the second Lagrange point, about a million miles from the Earth.

    NASA image

    ESA50 Logo large

    Canadian Space Agency

     
  • richardmitnick 4:29 pm on October 15, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , NASA/ESA/CSA Webb   

    From Goddard: “NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope and the Big Bang: A Short Q&A with Nobel Laureate Dr. John Mather” 

    NASA Goddard Banner
    NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

    Oct. 11, 2017
    Maggie Masetti
    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

    1
    Dr. John Mather, a Nobel laureate and the senior project scientist for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. Credits: NASA/Chris Gunn

    Q: What is the Big Bang?

    A: The Big Bang is a really misleading name for the expanding universe that we see. We see an infinite universe with distant galaxies all rushing away from each other.

    Universe map Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) 2dF Galaxy Redshift Survey

    The name Big Bang conveys the idea of a firecracker exploding at a time and a place — with a center. The universe doesn’t have a center, at least not one we can find. The Big Bang happened everywhere at once and was a process happening in time, not a point in time. We know this because 1) we see galaxies rushing away from each other, not from a central point; 2) we see the heat that was left over from early times, and that heat uniformly fills the universe; and 3) we can calculate and imagine what the universe was like when the parts were much closer together, and the calculations match everything we can see.

    Q: Can we see the Big Bang?

    A: No, the Big Bang itself is not something we can see.

    Q: What can we see?

    A: We can see the heat radiation that was there when the universe was young. We see this heat as it was about 380,000 years after the expansion of the universe began 13.8 billion years ago (which is what we refer to as the Big Bang). This heat covers the entire sky and fills the universe. (In fact it still does.) We were able to map it with satellites we (NASA and ESA) built called the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE), the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), and Planck. The universe at this point was extremely smooth, with only tiny ripples in temperature.

    Cosmic Infrared Background, Credit: Michael Hauser (Space Telescope Science Institute), the COBE/DIRBE Science Team, and NASA

    NASA/COBE

    1
    All-sky image of the infant universe, created from nine years of data from the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP).
    Credits: NASA/WMAP Science Team

    NASA/WMAP

    CMB per ESA/Planck


    ESA/Planck

    Q: I heard the James Webb Space Telescope will see back further than ever before. What will Webb see?

    NASA/ESA/CSA Webb Telescope annotated

    A: COBE, WMAP, and Planck all saw further back than Webb, though it’s true that Webb will see farther back than Hubble.

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    Webb was designed not to see the beginnings of the universe, but to see a period of the universe’s history that we have not seen yet.

    Lambda-Cold Dark Matter, Accelerated Expansion of the Universe, Big Bang-Inflation (timeline of the universe) Date 2010 Credit: Alex MittelmannColdcreation

    Specifically, we want to see the first objects that formed as the universe cooled down after the Big Bang. That time period is perhaps hundreds of millions of years later than the one COBE, WMAP, and Planck were built to see. We think that the tiny ripples of temperature they observed were the seeds that eventually grew into galaxies. We don’t know exactly when the universe made the first stars and galaxies — or how for that matter. That is what we are building Webb to help answer.

    Q: Why can’t Hubble see the first stars and galaxies forming?

    A: The only way we can see back to the time when these objects were forming is to look very far away. Hubble isn’t big enough or cold enough to see the faint heat signals of these objects that are so far away.

    Q: Why do we want to see the first stars and galaxies forming?

    A: The chemical elements of life were first produced in the first generation of stars after the Big Bang. We are here today because of them — and we want to better understand how that came to be! We have ideas, we have predictions, but we don’t know. One way or another the first stars must have influenced our own history, beginning with stirring up everything and producing the other chemical elements besides hydrogen and helium. So if we really want to know where our atoms came from, and how the little planet Earth came to be capable of supporting life, we need to measure what happened at the beginning.

    Dr. John Mather is the senior project scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope. Dr. Mather shares the 2006 Nobel Prize for Physics with George F. Smoot of the University of California for their work using the COBE satellite to measure the heat radiation from the Big Bang.

    The James Webb Space Telescope, the scientific complement to NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, will be the premier space observatory of the next decade. Webb is an international project led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency).

    For more information about the Webb telescope, visit: http://www.webb.nasa.gov or http://www.nasa.gov/webb

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center is home to the nation’s largest organization of combined scientists, engineers and technologists that build spacecraft, instruments and new technology to study the Earth, the sun, our solar system, and the universe.

    Named for American rocketry pioneer Dr. Robert H. Goddard, the center was established in 1959 as NASA’s first space flight complex. Goddard and its several facilities are critical in carrying out NASA’s missions of space exploration and scientific discovery.


    NASA/Goddard Campus

     
  • richardmitnick 9:28 pm on October 4, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , NASA/ESA/CSA Webb   

    From Goddard: “NASA’s Webb Telescope to Witness Galactic Infancy” 

    NASA Goddard Banner
    NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

    Oct. 4, 2017
    Eric Villard
    eric.s.villard@nasa.gov
    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

    Starfield
    The Hubble Ultra Deep Field is a snapshot of about 10,000 galaxies in a tiny patch of sky, taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.
    Credits: NASA, ESA, S. Beckwith (STScI), the HUDF Team

    After it launches and is fully commissioned, scientists plan to focus Webb telescope on sections of the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field (HUDF) and the Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey (GOODS).

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    NASA/Chandra Telescope

    NASA/Spitzer Infrared Telescope

    These sections of sky are among Webb’s list of targets chosen by guaranteed time observers, scientists who helped develop the telescope and thus get to be among the first to use it to observe the universe. The group of scientists will primarily use Webb’s mid-infrared instrument (MIRI) to examine a section of HUDF, and Webb’s near infrared camera (NIRCam) to image part of GOODS.

    NASA Webb MIRI

    NASA Webb NIRCam

    “By mixing [the data from] these instruments, we’ll get information about the current star formation rate, but we’ll also get information about the star formation history,” explained Hans Ulrik Nørgaard-Nielsen, an astronomer at the Danish Space Research Institute in Denmark and the principal investigator for the proposed observations.

    Pablo Pérez-González, an astrophysics professor at the Complutense University of Madrid in Spain and one of several co-investigators on Nørgaard-Nielsen’s proposed observation, said they will use Webb to observe about 40 percent of the HUDF area with MIRI, in roughly the same location that ground-based telescopes like the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) and the Very Large Telescope array (VLT) obtained ultra-deep field data.

    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array in Chile in the Atacama at Chajnantor plateau, at 5,000 metres

    ESO/VLT at Cerro Paranal, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

    The iconic HUDF image shows about 10,000 galaxies in a tiny section of the sky, equivalent to the amount of sky you would see with your naked eye if you looked at it through a soda straw. Many of these galaxies are very faint, more than 1 billion times fainter than what the naked human eye can see, marking them as some of the oldest galaxies within the visible universe.

    With its powerful spectrographic instruments, Webb will see much more detail than imaging alone can provide. Spectroscopy measures the spectrum of light, which scientists analyze to determine physical properties of what is being observed, including temperature, mass, and chemical composition. Pérez-González explained this will allow scientists to study how gases transformed into stars in the first galaxies, and to better understand the first phases in the formation of supermassive black holes, including how those black holes affect the formation of their home galaxy. Astronomers believe the center of nearly every galaxy contains a supermassive black hole, and that these black holes are related to galactic formation.

    MIRI can observe in the infrared wavelength range of 5 to 28 microns. Pérez-González said they will use the instrument to observe a section of HUDF in 5.6 microns, which Spitzer is capable of, but that Webb will be able to see objects 250 times fainter and with eight times more spatial resolution. In this case, spatial resolution is the ability of an optical telescope, such as Webb, to see the smallest details of an object.

    Pérez-González said in the area of HUDF they will observe, Hubble was able to see about 4,000 galaxies. He added that, with Webb, they “will detect around 2,000 to 2,500 galaxies, but in a completely different spectral band, so many galaxies will be quite different from the ones that [Hubble] detected.”

    With NIRCam, the team will observe a piece of the GOODS region near their selected section of HUDF. The entire GOODS survey field includes observations from Hubble, Spitzer, and several other space observatories.

    “These NIRCam images will be taken in three bands, and they will be the deepest obtained by any guaranteed time observation team,” explained Pérez-González.

    NIRCam can observe in the infrared wavelength range of 0.6 to 5 microns. Pérez-González explained they will use it to observe a section of GOODS in the 1.15 micron band, which Hubble is capable of, but that Webb will be able to see objects 50 times fainter and with two times more spatial resolution. They will also use it to observe the 2.8 and 3.6 micron bands. Spitzer is able to do this as well, but Webb will be able to observe objects nearly 100 times fainter and with eight times greater spatial resolution.

    Because the universe is expanding, light from distant objects in the universe is “redshifted,” meaning the light emitted by those objects is visible in the redder wavelengths by the time it reaches us. The objects farthest away from us, those with the highest redshifts, have their light shifted into the near- and mid-infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum. The Webb telescope is specifically designed to observe the objects in that area of the spectrum, which makes it ideal for looking at the early universe.

    “When you build an observatory with unprecedented capabilities, most probably the most interesting results will not be those that you can expect or predict, but those that no one can imagine,” said Pérez-González.

    The James Webb Space Telescope, the scientific complement to NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, will be the most powerful space telescope ever built. Webb is an international project led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency).

    MIRI was built by ESA, in partnership with the European Consortium, a group of scientists and engineers from European countries; a team from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California; and scientists from several U.S. institutions. NIRCam was built by Lockheed Martin and the University of Arizona in Tucson.

    For more information about Webb telescope, visit: http://www.webb.nasa.gov or http://www.nasa.gov/webb

    For more information about Hubble telescope, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/hubble

    For more information about Spitzer telescope, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/spitzer

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center is home to the nation’s largest organization of combined scientists, engineers and technologists that build spacecraft, instruments and new technology to study the Earth, the sun, our solar system, and the universe.

    Named for American rocketry pioneer Dr. Robert H. Goddard, the center was established in 1959 as NASA’s first space flight complex. Goddard and its several facilities are critical in carrying out NASA’s missions of space exploration and scientific discovery.


    NASA/Goddard Campus

     
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