Direct imaging and spectroscopy of terrestrial planets with JWST and a starsahde


Rémi Soummer, Jeff Valenti, Robert A. Brown, Sara Seager, Jason Tumlinson, Webster Cash, Ian Jordan, Marc Postman, Matt Mountain, Tiffany Glassman, Laurent Pueyo, Aki Roberge, and the NWP team




We present a study for using a starshade with the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). This concept would enable imaging and spectroscopy of a planet similar to the Earth, the study of its habitability, and the search for signs of alien life. JWST was not specifically designed to observe with a starshade, but its instrumentation and its great sensitivity make it capable of achieving major results in the study of terrestrial-mass exoplanets. However, there are some challenges for the starshade designs mainly due to the very large wavelength sensitivity of the HgCdTe detectors. We discuss the combination of a starshade with internal filters in NIRCam and NIRSpec to optimize both science return and starshade performance. We discuss a possible filter upgrade to enable feasible observations of Earth-like planets and in particular spectroscopic characterization in the near infrared. The new filter would not affect NIRSpec’s scientific performance nor its operations, but it would dramatically reduce the risk of adding a starshade to JWST in the future and enhance the performance of any starshade that is built.

Attached documents

Lyot2010proc s9 talk SoummerR.pdf
PDF, 976.1 kb