WR DustERS - Decoding Smoke Signals in the Glare of Wolf Rayet Stars with JWST

James Webb Space Telescope Director's Discretionary Early Release Science Program 1349

Welcome to the WR DustERS Webpage

Background. 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 will conduct JWST observations of the colliding-wind binaries WR140 and WR137 to study WR dust composition, abundance, and formation mechanisms.

We will utilize three key JWST observing modes:

  • The Medium-Resolution Spectrometer (MRS) on the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI)
  • The Imager on the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI)
  • Aperture Masking Interferometry (AMI) mode with the Near Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS)

Our observations will 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.