NASA's James Webb Space Telescope

ERS Program 1328

A JWST Study of the Starburst-AGN Connection in Merging LIRGs

PI: Lee Armus (California Institute of Technology/IPAC)
Co-PIs: N/A

Science Category Galaxies and Intergalactic Medium icon
Keywords IR-Luminous Galaxies, Interacting/Merging Galaxies, Starburst Galaxies
Investigators Philip N. Appleton (California Institute of Technology/IPAC)
Loreto Barcos-Munoz (Associated Universities, Inc.)
Vassilis Charmandaris (University of Crete)
Tanio Diaz Diaz-Santos (Diego Portales University)
Aaron S. Evans (The University of Virginia)
Justin H. Howell (California Institute of Technology/IPAC)
Hanae Inami (Centre de Recherche Astrophysique de Lyon)
Kirsten L. Larson (California Institute of Technology/IPAC)
Sean Linden (The University of Virginia)
Matthew A. Malkan (University of California - Los Angeles)
Jason Marshall (Glendale Community College)
Joseph M. Mazzarella (California Institute of Technology/IPAC)
Anne Medling (California Institute of Technology)
Eric J. Murphy (Associated Universities, Inc.)
George Privon (University of Florida)
David B. Sanders (University of Hawaii)
Jeffrey Austin Sterling Rich Jr. (Carnegie Institution of Washington)
Sabrina Stierwalt (California Institute of Technology/IPAC)
Jason A. Surace (Eureka Scientific Inc.)
Vivian U (University of California - Irvine)

Galaxies evolve through a combination of secular processes, such as cold gas accretion, and nonsecular processes, such as galactic mergers, which can trigger massive starbursts and powerful AGN. JWST will transform our understanding of galactic evolution, providing a detailed look at the physics of star formation and black hole growth in nearby merging galaxies. By using NIRSPEC, NIRCAM and MIRI, we will create a rich dataset for understanding the dynamics and energetics of the ISM on scales of 50-100pc in the nuclei of local Luminous Infrared Galaxies (LIRGs). Our targets cover a range of starburst-to-AGN power, merger stage, and IR spectral properties, and are all visible to JWST over the first 5 months of Cycle-1. We will target each nucleus with the NIRSPEC and MIRI IFUs to cover the full spectral range from 1.6-29 microns, and obtain deep, wide-field NIRCAM and MIRI images in the F150W, F200W, F335M, F444W, F560W, F770W and F1500W filters.

The proposed observations will be scientifically compelling in their own right, and they will allow the community to fully explore the power of JWST to unravel the complex galactic ecosystems in active and starburst galaxies at low-redshift. Our science-enabling products include multi-wavelength, ancillary datasets from Spitzer, ALMA, JVLA, AKARI and HST, valuable cross-calibration infrared datasets from Spitzer and AKARI, together with custom spectral fitting software which  we will deliver and use to analyze the JWST spectral cubes. This proposal will set the stage for more extensive studies of active and starburst galaxies at low and high-redshift in Cycle-2 and beyond.

The team is currently planning on observing these four targets: 

  1. NGC 3256
  2. NGC 7469
  3. VV 114
  4. IRAS 08572+3915
Instrument and Mode MIRI: Medium Resolution Spectroscopy; Imaging
NIRCam: Imaging
NIRSpec: IFU Spectroscopy
What does the program enable for the user community? Star formation, BH growth, feedback, and molecular gas and radio emission on 50pc scales. A high-res dynamic map of the multi-phase ISM in rapidly evolving galaxies.
  • JWST images, spectral cubes, 1D fitted spectral parameters, 2D feature maps
  • Stellar, emission line, dust continuum, PAH, H2 maps
  • NIR-MIR spectral fitting software and feature maps
  • ALMA, JVLA, HST high-res maps of stars, gas and dust
  • Valuable Spitzer and AKARI IR cross-cal images/spectra
How will you engage the user community?

The team will disseminate early results, create outreach materials specific to our program, and post/update news for the community, including when/where members of the team will speak at workshops, meetings, and other events.

Team website URL