NASA's James Webb Space Telescope

ERS Program 1309

IceAge: Chemical Evolution of Ices during Star Formation

PI: Melissa McClure (Universiteit van Amsterdam)
Co-PIs: Adwin Boogert (University of Hawaii) and Harold Linnartz (Universiteit Leiden)

Science Category Stellar Physics icon
Keywords Chemical Abundances, Dust, Interstellar Medium, Molecular Clouds, Pre-Main Sequence Stars
Investigators Jeb Bailey (Universiteit Leiden)
Tracy Beck (Space Telescope Science Institute)
Wendy Brown (University of Sussex)
Paola Caselli (Max-Planck-Institut fur extraterrestrische Physik)
Jean Chiar (SETI Institute)
Eiichi Egami (University of Arizona)
Helen Jane Fraser (Open University)
Robin Garrod (The University of Virginia)
Karl D. Gordon (Space Telescope Science Institute)
Sergio Ioppolo (Open University)
Izaskun Jimenez-Serra (University of London, Queen Mary & Westfield College (QMWC))
Jes Jorgensen (University of Copenhagen, Niels Bohr Institute)
Lars E. Kristensen (University of Copenhagen, Niels Bohr Institute)
Martin McCoustra (Heriot Watt University)
Nadia Murillo (Universiteit Leiden)
Jennifer Noble (Universite de Bordeaux)
Karin Oberg (Harvard University)
Maria Elisabetta Palumbo (INAF, Osservatorio Astrofisico di Catania)
Yvonne Jean Pendleton (NASA Ames Research Center)
Klaus M. Pontoppidan (Space Telescope Science Institute)
Ewine F. Van Dishoeck (University of Hawaii)
Serena Viti (University College London)

Icy grain mantles are the main reservoir for volatile elements in star-forming regions across the Universe, as well as the formation site of pre-biotic complex organic molecules (COMs) seen in our Solar System. We propose to trace the evolution of pristine and complex ice chemistry in a representative low-mass star-forming region through observations of a: pre-stellar core, Class 0 protostar, Class I protostar, and protoplanetary disk. Comparing high spectral resolution (R~1500-3000) and sensitivity (S/N~100-300) observations from 3 to 15 um to template spectra, we will map the spatial distribution of ices down to ~20-50 AU in these targets to identify when, and at what visual extinction, the formation of each ice species begins. Such high-resolution spectra will allow us to search for new COMs, as well as distinguish between different ice morphologies, thermal histories, and mixing environments.

The analysis of these data will result in science products beneficial to Cycle 2 proposers. A newly updated public laboratory ice database will provide feature identifications for all of the expected ices, while a chemical model fit to the observed ice abundances will be released publically as a grid, with varied metallicity and UV fields to simulate other environments. We will create improved algorithms to extract NIRCAM WFSS spectra in crowded fields with extended sources as  well as optimize the defringing of MIRI LRS spectra in order to recover broad spectral features. We anticipate that these resources will be particularly useful for astrochemistry and spectroscopy of fainter, extended targets like star forming regions of the SMC/LMC or more distant galaxies.

Instrument and Mode

MIRI: Medium Resolution Spectroscopy; Low Resolution Spectroscopy
NIRCam: Wide Field Slitless Spectroscopy
NIRSpec: IFU Spectroscopy; Fixed Slit Spectroscopy

What does the program enable for the user community?
  • Representative spectra of all stages of the star formation sequence
  • Routines to enhance the pipeline extraction for crowded fields
  • Public laboratory ice database with main ice species and the most abundant complex organix molecules (COMs) as seen with ALMA
  • Public chemical model grid for different environments, including extra-Galactic
How will you engage the user community? We will engage the community through talks, workshops, and our website with updates on the project, descriptions of best practices, and links to the products.
Team website URL