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The Space Telescope Scientific Institute (STScI) scientific staff actively research topics in the Solar System and exoplanets; stars and the interstellar medium; galaxies, the intergalactic medium, and cosmology; instrumentation; and future space telescopes. Our publications and presentations also relate to a range of NASA missions, including the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, community missions and future concepts, and further analysis of data in the Barbara A. Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST), which includes more than 20 missions. This page provides an overview of some of these scientific activities.

Solar System and Exoplanets

Artistic rendering of the TRAPPIST-1 star with seven Earth-size planets orbiting it.
Exoplanet Characterization Toolkit

ExoCTK is an open-source, modular, data analysis software package focused primarily on the atmospheric characterization of exoplanets.  It serves as a single repository for JWST observation planning, data reduction, light curve fitting, and atmospheric retrievals.

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Artist's concept - massive asteroid belt in orbit around a star
Institute for Planets and Life

A highly interdisciplinary team of scientists at Johns Hopkins University, STScI, and the Applied Physics Laboratory combine their expertise to address fundamental questions about the origins, evolution, and prevalence of life in the universe.

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Stars and the Interstellar Medium

Interstellar Medium
The Interstellar Medium Group

The Interstellar Medium Group at STScI is a collaboration between STScI research staff, external collaborators, and students and postdocs. Pooling resources and expertise, they collaborate on research projects focusing on interstellar, circumstellar, and circumgalactic media.

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Smith Cloud
Milky Way Halo Research Group

The Milky Way Halo Research Group studies the gaseous halo of the Milky Way to better understand the Galactic ecosystem.

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Silicate Crystal Formation in the Disk of an Erupting Star Artist Concept
Star and Planet Formation Group

The Star and Planet Formation Group strives to understand the process that changes a collapsing cloud of gas and dust into a star and planetary system… and what happens to the material that comprises it.

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The Tarantula Nebula

Over the next three years, Hubble’s ULLYSES program will produce the largest ever ultraviolet spectroscopic library of young high- and low-mass stars.

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Galaxies, the Intergalactic Medium, and Cosmology

Long exposure image of NGC 4911 in Coma Cluster of galaxies

The Cosmic Assembly Near-infrared Deep Extragalactic Legacy Survey (CANDELS) is a powerful imaging survey of the distant universe carried out with two cameras on the Hubble Space Telescope.

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Hubble image of Galaxy Cluster MACS J1206.2-0847

The Cluster Lensing And Supernova survey with Hubble (CLASH) is an innovative survey to place new constraints on the fundamental components of the cosmos using the Hubble Space Telescope.

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Giant Nebula NGC 3603
COS-Halos Survey

The COS-Halos Survey studies the diffuse, invisible gas medium surrounding galaxies. We use the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) on HST and big telescopes on the ground to probe and weigh this gas and examine its role in how galaxies form and why they look the way they do.

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Infrared image of  Mountains of Creation
Frontier Fields

Frontier Fields draws on the power of massive clusters of galaxies to unleash the full potential of the Hubble Space Telescope.

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This is a Hubble Space Telescope view of a very massive cluster of galaxies, MACS J0416.1-2403

The Grism Lens-Amplified Survey from Space (GLASS) is a large Hubble Space Telescope Cycle 21 program targeting 10 massive clusters, to take spectra of faint background galaxies with unprecedented sensitivity and angular resolution.

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Illustration of Future Positions of Stars in Omega Centauri

The HSTPROMO collaboration uses high-resolution space telescopes to understand the dynamics of stars, clusters, and galaxies in the nearby Universe through proper motion studies.

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NGC 3368

Legacy ExtraGalactic UV Survey is a Treasury Program that has imaged 50 local galaxies with WFC3 and ACS from the UV to the near-IR. Its aim is to quantify how the clustering of star formation evolves in both space and time.

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Andromeda Galaxy

The Panchromatic Hubble Andromeda Treasury (PHAT) is an HST multi-cycle program to map roughly a third of the star-forming disk of M31, using six filters covering the ultraviolet through the near-infrared. 

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Compass Image for SPT0615-JD Lensed Galaxy

Reionization Lensing Cluster Survey (RELICS) is a Hubble Space Telescope Treasury program and Spitzer Space Telescope general observer (GO) program that analyzes the best and brightest high redshift candidates magnified by gravitational lensing.

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Spiral Galaxy M81

The Shocked POststarburst Galaxy Survey (SPOGS) searches for galaxies that are currently undergoing rapid transformations from blue cloud late-type spirals to red sequence early-type elliptical and lenticular galaxies to identify galaxies in metamorphosis and understand galaxy transformation.

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Instrumentation and Archives

A Near-Infrared View of the Pillars of Creation Nebula
The Barbara A. Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST)

MAST is a NASA-funded project to maximize the scientific accessibility and impact of astronomical data, with a focus on science related to data sets in the optical, ultraviolet, and near-infrared parts of the spectrum.

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Closeup of HiCat instrument in the Optics Lab.
The Russell B. Makidon Optics Laboratory

The Russell B. Makidon Optics Laboratory is dedicated to advancing technologies for future generations of space telescopes. The current research focuses on enabling direct images of exoplanets using large segmented telescopes in space.

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WIYN High Resolution Infrared Camera (WHIRC)

The WIYN High-Resolution Infrared Camera (WHIRC) is a near-infrared imager that installs on the WIYN Tip/tilt module (WTTM) port on the 3.5-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory. A selection of wide- and narrow-band filters allow WHIRC to achieve a broad range of scientific goals.

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Future Telescope Concepts

Artist concept of an exoplanet

The Habitable Exoplanet Imaging Mission (HabEx) will directly image planetary systems around Sun-like stars. The ultraviolet, optical, and near-infrared mission will be sensitive to all types of planets, but its main goal is to directly image Earth-like exoplanets.

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Artistic rendering of LUVOIR

The Large UV/Optical/IR Surveyor (LUVOIR) is a concept that will survey hundreds of stars to search for rocky planets in their habitable zones. It will also provide unprecedented resolution and sensitivity on faint stellar populations and map the properties of intergalactic gas flows.

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Artist concept LYNX observatory

Lynx is an X-ray mission concept that will close major gaps in our understanding of galaxy formation and evolution, and greatly expand our understanding of X-rays throughout the Milky Way and nearby galaxies.

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Artistic rendering of science concepts that could be explored by Origins Space Telescope

The Origins Space Telescope (OST) is a concept that will revolutionize our understanding of planetary system formation, detect signs of life in nearby exoplanets, and unveil the dark side of galaxy evolution.

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