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Published September 19, 2007 | Published
Book Section - Chapter Open

Hunting planets and observing disks with the JWST NIRCam coronagraph


The expected stable point spread function, wide field of view, and sensitivity of the NIRCam instrument on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will allow a simple, classical Lyot coronagraph to detect warm Jovian-mass companions orbiting young stars within 150 pc as well as cool Jupiters around the nearest low-mass stars. The coronagraph can also be used to study protostellar and debris disks. At λ = 4.5 μm, where young planets are particularly bright relative to their stars, and at separations beyond ~0.5 arcseconds, the low space background gives JWST significant advantages over ground-based telescopes equipped with adaptive optics. We discuss the scientific capabilities of the NIRCam coronagraph, describe the technical features of the instrument, and present end-to-end simulations of coronagraphic observations of planets and circumstellar disks.

Additional Information

© 2007 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). This work was undertaken at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory with support provided by the NIRCam instrument development team (NASA NAS5-02105). Marc Kuchner provided suggestions for potential band-limited occulter profiles.

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August 19, 2023
January 14, 2024