Profile Details

ESA-AURA Astronomer
Dan Coe headshot

Dr. Dan Coe provides support for astronomers using and preparing to use the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) and the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). He leads the HST and JWST Help Desks. As an instrument scientist for the JWST Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam), Dr. Coe wrote much of that instrument’s user manual in JDox (JWST Documentation) and developed more efficient dither patterns for NIRCam observations. He is also the Frontier Fields Lens Model coordinator. Previously, Dr. Coe managed the JDox project and was an instrument scientist on HST’s Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS).

As an astronomer, Dr. Coe discovers and studies the most distant galaxies known using the Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes with the aid of gravitational lensing by massive galaxy clusters. He is the principal investigator of the Reionization Lensing Cluster Survey (RELICS), a 188-orbit Hubble Treasury Program. RELICS observed 41 clusters and delivered many of the best and brightest galaxies known in the universe’s first billion years (z ~ 6 – 10). Previously, as a co-investigator on the Hubble Multi-Cycle Treasury Program CLASH (Cluster Lensing And Supernova survey with Hubble), Dr. Coe discovered a strong candidate for the most distant galaxy known at z ~ 11. Dr. Coe also successfully advocated for lensing clusters to be included in the Hubble Deep Fields Initiative, which became the Frontier Fields.

Earlier in his career, Dr. Coe was a member of the HST ACS Guaranteed Time Observations (GTO) science team. He measured Bayesian photometric redshifts of galaxies in the Hubble Ultra Deep Field and derived the most detailed dark matter map to date (in 2010) of a galaxy cluster based on his strong lensing analysis of Abell 1689. Dr. Coe received his PhD from Johns Hopkins, splitting his time between there and the Andalusian Astrophysics Institute (IAA) in Granada, Spain. He went on to a Caltech postdoctoral scholar position at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) where he studied cosmological constraints from gravitational lens time delays. For his second postdoc, he worked on CLASH at STScI before joining the STScI staff as an astronomer in 2013.

Dr. Coe and his colleagues have used gravitational lensing to efficiently discover distant galaxies 97% of the way back to the Big Bang. We have yet to observe a single object that existed earlier than that, during the universe’s first 400 million years. The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will enable astronomers to begin writing this first 3% of our cosmic history. Dr. Coe predicts that gravitational lensing will be the key to discovering the first galaxies with JWST. He is excited to lead JWST proposals and to be a co-investigator on the JWST GTO program led by Prof. Rogier Windhorst (Arizona State University).


PhD in Astronomy, Johns Hopkins University
MS in Astronomy, Johns Hopkins University
BS in Applied and Engineering Physics, Cornell University


Science Interests:

  • Distant galaxy properties and evolution in the first billion years
  • Galaxy cluster formation, the growth of structure, and cosmological constraints
  • What is dark matter?  Lensing constraints on particle properties


Research Topics: High-Redshift Galaxies; Galaxy Groups and Clusters; Galaxy Formation and Evolution; Gravitational Lensing


Professional Websites:

Professional Website

Reionization Lensing Cluster Survey (RELICS)


ORCID ID: 0000-0001-7410-7669


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