Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy

Queen's University
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Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy
Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy

Frontier Science with the James Webb Space Telescope

Jason Kalirai

Friday, February 3, 2012
1:30 PM @ Stirling A


The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will be the most powerful space telescope that astronomers have ever constructed, and it is a critical step towards answering the top science questions outlined in the recent Astronomy 2010 - 2020 Decadal Survey. In this talk, I will discuss a wide range of fundamental science cases that are uniquely enabled by JWST's unprecedented sensitivity (10 minute exposures will detect M dwarfs with V = 30 at S/N = 5) and superb resolution (diffraction limited at 2, 4, and 7+ microns). These include core science drivers which have strengthened during the past decade (e.g., the characterization of exoplanet atmospheres and the search for molecular signatures of life) and new discovery areas that have recently emerged (e.g., establishing a 1% error on H_o and constraining dark energy). I will also summarize several synergistic science investigations that will become possible by combining future wide field surveys from WFIRST and LSST with JWST spectroscopy.