NASA's James Webb Space Telescope

ERS Program 1349

Establishing Extreme Dynamic Range with JWST: Decoding Smoke Signals in the Glare of a Wolf-Rayet Binary

PI: Ryan M. Lau (California Institute of Technology)
Co-PIs: N/A

Science Category Stellar Physics icon
Keywords Circumstellar Matter, Dust, Hot Stars, Interstellar Medium, Massive Stars
Investigators Mike Corcoran (Goddard Space Flight Center)
Ori Fox (Space Telescope Science Institute)
Ted Gull (Goddard Space Flight Center)
Kenji Hamaguchi (Goddard Space Flight Center)
Matthew J. Hankins (Cornell University)
Mansi Kasliwal (California Institute of Technology)
Astrid Lamberts (California Institute of Technology)
Jamie Lomax (University of Washington)
Tom Madura (San Jose State University)
Sergey Marchenko (SSA Inc.)
Elisabeth Mills (Boston University)
Tony Moffat (Université de Montréal)
Mark Morris (University of California - Los Angeles)
Andy Pollock (University of Sheffield)
Michael Ressler (Jet Propulsion Laboratory)
Noel Richardson (University of Toledo)
Christopher Russell (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile)
Itsuki Sakon (University of Tokyo)
Joel Sanchez-Bermudez (European Southern Observatory - Chile)
Anand Sivaramakrishnan (Space Telescope Science Institute)
Nathan Smith (Steward Observatory)
Deepashri Thatte (Space Telescope Science Institute)
Peter Tuthill (University of Sydney)
Kevin Volk (Space Telescope Science Institute)
Takehiko Wada (JAXA)
Gerd Weigelt (MPIfR)
Peredur Williams (University of Edinburgh)

Dust is a key ingredient in the formation of stars and planets. However, the dominant channels of dust production throughout cosmic time are still unclear. With its unprecedented sensitivity and spatial resolution in the mid-IR, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is the ideal platform to address this issue by investigating the dust abundance, composition, and production rates of various dusty sources. In particular, colliding-wind Wolf-Rayet (WR) binaries are efficient dust producers in the local Universe, and likely existed in the earliest galaxies. To study these interesting objects, we propose JWST observations of the archetypal colliding-wind binary WR 140 to study its dust composition, abundance, and formation mechanisms. We will utilize two key JWST observing modes with the medium-resolution spectrometer (MRS) on the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) and the Aperture Masking Interferometry (AMI) mode with the Near Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS).

Our proposed observations will yield high impact scientific results on the dust forming properties WR binaries, and establish a benchmark for key observing modes for imaging bright sources with faint extended emission. This will be valuable in various astrophysical contexts including mass-loss from evolved stars, dusty tori around active galactic nuclei, and protoplanetary disks. We are committed to designing and delivering science-enabling products for the JWST community that address technical issues such as bright source artifacts that will limit the maximum achievable image contrast.

Instrument and Mode MIRI: Medium Resolution Spectroscopy
NIRISS: Aperture Masking Interferometry
What does the program enable for the user community?

Establish benchmarks and provide data reduction tools for key observing modes imaging faint extended emission around bright sources.

How will you engage the user community?

In addition to attending meetings, we plan to engage the community via social media and web-based forums. We will also engage with theorists to test CW simulations against observations.

Team website URL