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JWST Telescope Scientist Team

Star system Beta Pictoris. A thin, elongated horizontal orange line appears at the center of the frame, extending almost to the edges. This is a debris disk seen edge-on. A thin blue-green disk is inclined about five degrees counterclockwise relative to the orange main disk. Cloudy, translucent gray material is most prominent near the orange main debris disk. Some of the gray material forms a curved feature in the upper right, resembling a cat’s tail. The central star, represented as a small white star icon, is blocked by an instrument known as a coronagraph, which forms a large black circle at center and two small disks pointing to the upper left and lower right. The background of space is black.
JWST image obtained by the Telescope Scientist Team of the debris disk surrounding the star Beta Pic. A coronagraph (black circle and two small disks) was used to block the light of the central star (white star symbol). Unexpectedly, the image revealed a curvy branch of dust that resembles the shape of a cat’s tail, likely formed of matter similar to the matter found on the surfaces of comets and asteroids in our solar system, and possibly created through a collision between asteroids, comets, or planetesimals.

The JWST Telescope Scientist Team, led by AURA President Matt Mountain, has provided scientific support of the Webb Observatory development since 2002. The team has access to 210 hours of Guaranteed Time Observer time, which are being used to address three key subject areas through different observational techniques:

  • Characterization of the exoplanet atmospheres of a hot Jupiter, a warm Neptune, and a super Earth, through transit and eclipse spectroscopy
  • Characterization of exoplanet systems, debris disks, and brown dwarfs, through coronagraphic imaging
  • Characterization of the stellar proper motion kinematics of Local Group dwarf galaxies and the Galactic Center through astrometric imaging

The joint goal of these studies is to demonstrate science at the limits of what is made possible by the exquisite optics and stability of JWST. The results will provide new insights into exoplanet atmospheres, systems, and formation, as well as into galaxy formation, the characteristics of dark matter, and the black hole in the Galactic Center.

Website: JWST Telescope Scientist Team

Leads: Roeland van der Marel, Marshall Perrin, Jeff Valenti

Research Topics: 

  • Exoplanet Characterization
  • Transiting Exoplanets
  • Exoplanet Atmospheres
  • High Contrast Imaging
  • Coronagraphs
  • Brown Dwarfs
  • Circumstellar Disks
  • Proper Motions
  • Local Group Galaxies
  • Galactic Center
  • Galactic Dynamics

Seminars/Journal Club: ESPF series

Related Missions & Instruments: JWST

Related Programs: Extrasolar Planetary Systems Imaging Group (EPSIG)High-resolution Space Telescope Proper Motion Collaboration (HSTPROMO)

Selected Publications: JWST Telescope Scientists Team Papers