The Mid-Infrared Instrument for the James Webb Space Telescope, I: Introduction

Rieke, G. H., Wright, G. S., Böker, T., Bouwman, J., Colina, L., Glasse, Alistair, Gordon, K. D., Greene, T. P., Güdel, Manuel, Henning, Th., Justtanont, K., Lagage, P.-O., Meixner, M. E., Nørgaard-Nielsen, H.-U., Ray, T. P., Ressler, M. E., van Dishoeck, E. F., & Waelkens, C.
2015, Publications of the Astronomical Society of Pacific, 127, 584


MIRI (the Mid-Infrared Instrument for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)) operates from 5 to 28.5 microns and combines over this range: 1.) unprecedented sensitivity levels; 2.) sub-arcsec angular resolution; 3.) freedom from atmospheric interference; 4.) the inherent stability of observing in space; and 5.) a suite of versatile capabilities including imaging, low and medium resolution spectroscopy (with an integral field unit), and coronagraphy. We illustrate the potential uses of this unique combination of capabilities with various science examples: 1.) imaging exoplanets; 2.) transit and eclipse spectroscopy of exoplanets; 3.) probing the first stages of star and planet formation, including identifying bioactive molecules; 4.) determining star formation rates and mass growth as galaxies are assembled; and 5.) characterizing the youngest massive galaxies. This paper is the introduction to a series of ten covering all aspects of the instrument.

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