Prepare for astounding investigation, for the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) has elaborated the 13 proposals that will compromise the initial set of scientific observations carried out by the highly anticipated James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). The James Webb Space Telescope is a component of NASA’s Next Generation Telescope program that is to be launched in 2019, developed by NASA, Canadian Space Agency, and the European Space Agency.
JWST will ultimately provide unprecedented resolution and amazing sensitivity from the long-wavelength visible light through the mid-infrared range.
John C. Mather, senior project scientist for the Webb telescope and senior astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland spoke out about the telescope in a news release: “I’m thrilled to see the list of astronomer’s most fascinating targets for the Webb telescope and extremely eager to see the results. We fully expect to be surprised by what we find.”
The telescope will facilitate a wide scope of research to be conducted, such as solar observations, to some of the most distant galaxies currently on record. All four of the instruments of the JWST will be utilized and its incredible abilities will be thoroughly demonstrated. Surprise and beauty is expected.
Obviously, physicists and astronomers are excited and looking forward to use the JWST and rightly so. The level of thrill is so high that the STScI received eight times higher the average amount of requests for subscription to the Early Release period than it could facilitate. “It is a highly competitive field,” Neill Reid of the STScI revealed to Futurism.
Niell Reid also went on to say: “Webb is a six-and-a-half meters. There’s orders of magnitude increase in sensitivity with that, so there’s really an enormous area of discovery space. You can do bright objects much much faster. You can do much fainter objects than you could have ever done before with any telescope.”
Deputy senior project scientist for the JSWT also added onto the conversation: “In order to see things fainter, we need a larger telescope to collect more light.”
According to Gardner, the JWST possess several advantages over the Hubble Telescope, especially with its major strength being able to see back in time, allowing scientists to observe and analyze remote, dull galaxies in their early formations. Another reason for JWST’s growing popularity is its operation time is limited– to miss the chance of potentially operating is upsetting, to say the least.
Reid spoke out on the reason as to why the time frame exists, saying that: “the limiting factor for Webb is basically fuel. Because it’s working in infrared, all of the instruments need to be kept really cold. The way that that’s done is not by using liquid nitrogen or anything like that– there’s a giant Sun shade that unfolds, basically puts the telescope into the shade.”
Properly operating the sunshade and moving between different objects demands the adjustment of the telescope’s orbit which uses rocket fuel. This means that the JWST is to operate for at least five years, but the team remains hopeful that the telescope will prevail for at least 10 years of operation.
Despite the short period of operation, the JWST is expected to deliver new, innovating information regarding exoplanets.
The reason as to why this belief is in place is due to the several spectrographs operating at infrared and near-infrared wavelengths which enables researchers to probe regions that previously deemed the title “unaccessible” in the scavenge for relatively small exoplanets.
According to Neill Reid, researchers are now gifted the power to study the planet’s atmospheres with an amount of precision that hasn’t existed before. Gardner also praised the telescope, telling Futurism about a program chosen to be part of the Early Release period that will utilize the coronagraphy process. Coronagraphy allows scientists to observe the characteristics of the planet’s atmospheres as they travel in front of their stars.
“One of the most exciting things, I think, is that as the planets is transiting the star, the light from the star actually goes through the atmosphere of the planet and reaches our telescope. When we subtract that out, we can get a direct spectrum of the atmosphere and determine its constituents.”
Do expect more– these are only the earliest plans for the JWST and after taking into consideration the fact that the telescope is hypothesized to operate for at least a decade, JWST could provide a much more universal amount of information and insights to the scientific community before its final days.