When NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope begins science operations in 2022, one of its first tasks will be an ambitious program to map the earliest structures in the universe. Called COSMOS-Webb, this wide and deep survey of half-a-million galaxies is the largest project Webb will undertake during its first year.
With more than 200 hours of observing time, COSMOS-Webb will survey a large patch of the sky—0.6 square degrees—with the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam). That’s the size of three full moons. It will simultaneously map a smaller area with the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI).
It’s a large chunk of sky, which is pretty unique to the COSMOS-Webb program. Most Webb programs are drilling very deep, like pencil-beam surveys that are studying tiny patches of sky,” explained Caitlin Casey, an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin and co-leader of the COSMOS-Webb program. “Because we’re covering such a large area, we can look at large-scale structures at the dawn of galaxy formation. We will also look for some of the rarest galaxies that existed early on, as well as map the large-scale dark matter distribution of galaxies out to very early times.”
(Dark matter does not absorb, reflect, or emit light, so it cannot be seen directly. We know that dark matter exists because of the effect it has on objects that we can observe.)
COSMOS-Webb will study half-a-million galaxies with multi-band, high-resolution, near-infrared imaging, and an unprecedented 32,000 galaxies in the mid-infrared. With its rapid public release of the data, this survey will be a primary legacy dataset from Webb for scientists worldwide studying galaxies beyond the Milky Way.
Building on Hubble’s Achievements
The COSMOS survey began in 2002 as a Hubble program to image a much larger patch of sky, about the area of 10 full moons. From there, the collaboration snowballed to include most of the world’s major telescopes on Earth and in space. Now COSMOS is a multi-wavelength survey that covers the entire spectrum from the X-ray through the radio.
Because of its location on the sky, the COSMOS field is accessible to observatories around the world. Located on the celestial equator, it can be studied from both the northern and southern hemispheres, resulting in a rich and diverse treasury of data.
“COSMOS has become the survey that a lot of extragalactic scientists go to in order to conduct their analyses because the data products are so widely available, and because it covers such a wide area of the sky,” said Rochester Institute of Technology’s Jeyhan Kartaltepe, assistant professor of physics and co-leader of the COSMOS-Webb program. “COSMOS-Webb is the next installment of that, where we’re using Webb to extend our coverage in the near- and mid-infrared part of the spectrum, and therefore pushing out our horizon, how far away we’re able to see.”
The ambitious COSMOS-Webb program will build upon previous discoveries to make advances in three particular areas of study, including: revolutionizing our understanding of the Reionization Era; looking for early, fully evolved galaxies; and learning how dark matter evolved with galaxies’ stellar content.
Goal 1: Revolutionizing Our Understanding of the Reionization Era
Soon after the big bang, the universe was completely dark. Stars and galaxies, which bathe the cosmos in light, had not yet formed. Instead, the universe consisted of a primordial soup of neutral hydrogen and helium atoms and invisible dark matter. This is called the cosmic dark ages.
After several hundred million years, the first stars and galaxies emerged and provided energy to reionize the early universe. This energy ripped apart the hydrogen atoms that filled the universe, giving them an electric charge and ending the cosmic dark ages. This new era where the universe was flooded with light is called the Reionization Era.
The first goal of COSMOS-Webb focuses on this epoch of reionization, which took place from 400,000 to 1 billion years after the big bang. Reionization likely happened in little pockets, not all at once. COSMOS-Webb will look for bubbles showing where the first pockets of the early universe were reionized. The team aims to map the scale of these reionization bubbles.
“Hubble has done a great job of finding handfuls of these galaxies out to early times, but we need thousands more galaxies to understand the reionization process,” explained Casey.
Scientists don’t even know what kind of galaxies ushered in the Reionization Era, whether they’re very massive or relatively low-mass systems. COSMOS-Webb will have a unique ability to find very massive, rare galaxies and see what their distribution is like in large-scale structures. So, are the galaxies responsible for reionization living in the equivalent of a cosmic metropolis, or are they mostly evenly distributed across space? Only a survey the size of COSMOS-Webb can help scientists to answer this.
Goal 2: Looking for Early, Fully Evolved Galaxies
COSMOS-Webb will search for very early, fully evolved galaxies that shut down star birth in the first 2 billion years after the big bang. Hubble has found a handful of these galaxies, which challenge existing models about how the universe formed. Scientists struggle to explain how these galaxies could have old stars and not be forming any new stars so early in the history of the universe.
With a large survey like COSMOS-Webb, the team will find many of these rare galaxies. They plan detailed studies of these galaxies to understand how they could have evolved so rapidly and turned off star formation so early.
Goal 3: Learning How Dark Matter Evolved with Galaxies’ Stellar Content
COSMOS-Webb will give scientists insight into how dark matter in galaxies has evolved with the galaxies’ stellar content over the universe’s lifetime.
Galaxies are made of two types of matter: normal, luminous matter that we see in stars and other objects, and invisible dark matter, which is often more massive than the galaxy and can surround it in an extended halo. Those two kinds of matter are intertwined in galaxy formation and evolution. However, presently there’s not much knowledge about how the dark matter mass in the halos of galaxies formed, and how that dark matter impacts the formation of the galaxies.
COSMOS-Webb will shed light on this process by allowing scientists to directly measure these dark matter halos through “weak lensing.” The gravity from any type of mass—whether it’s dark or luminous—can serve as a lens to “bend” the light we see from more distant galaxies. Weak lensing distorts the apparent shape of background galaxies, so when a halo is located in front of other galaxies, scientists can directly measure the mass of the halo’s dark matter.
“For the first time, we’ll be able to measure the relationship between the dark matter mass and the luminous mass of galaxies back to the first 2 billion years of cosmic time,” said team member Anton Koekemoer, a research astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, who helped design the program’s observing strategy and is in charge of constructing all the images from the program. “That’s a crucial epoch for us to try to understand how the galaxies’ mass was first put in place, and how that’s driven by the dark matter halos. And that can then feed indirectly into our understanding of galaxy formation.”
Quickly Sharing Data with the Community
COSMOS-Webb is a Treasury program, which by definition is designed to create datasets of lasting scientific value. Treasury Programs strive to solve multiple scientific problems with a single, coherent dataset. Data taken under a Treasury Program usually has no exclusive access period, enabling immediate analysis by other researchers.
“As a Treasury Program, you are committing to quickly releasing your data and your data products to the community,” explained Kartaltepe. “We’re going to produce this community resource and make it publicly available so that the rest of the community can use it in their scientific analyses.”
Koekemoer added, “A Treasury Program commits to making publicly available all these science products so that anyone in the community, even at very small institutions, can have the same, equal access to the data products and then just do the science.”
COSMOS-Webb is a Cycle 1 General Observers program. General Observers programs were competitively selected using a dual-anonymous review system, the same system that is used to allocate time on Hubble.
The James Webb Space Telescope will be the world’s premier space science observatory when it launches in 2021. Webb will solve mysteries in our solar system, look beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probe the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it. Webb is an international program led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency.
For more information about Webb, visit www.nasa.gov/webb
Something does not look right when huge sums of money are spent on trying to see more of our universe but those doing research on what is literally under our feet and far more likely to produce what is beneficial to people struggle to get funding. It is time to get priorities right.
You mean more money for NASA climate science? good idea!
But I thought the science was settled?
For the briefest moment there I thought Griff was actually being /sarc about climate science…a VERY BRIEF MOMENT
Would it be possible to neutralize the advantage griff’s tracking software gives them to keep posting comments in first or second position on new articles? Perhaps put a temporary ban on their posts for say an hour after any new article is put up? That could level the playing field for people who are not professional trolls.
He’s probably just subscribed to WUWT on some social media platform where he gets automatic notifications. I doubt he is smart enough to have any “software” to gain an advantage.
Of course one troll can not dominate the head of each thread here without a dozen willing accomplices like YOU who turn a one line post into a pointless chain of BS which then dominates the top of the thread.
If you don’t like it STOP IT!
These are very small money for good science
Do not become jealous for that
The thing about fundamental research it that you never know what will become known and thus what ideas will arise.
It’s not appropriate to Pareto projects as you would between activities with known benefits and costs. In fundamental research we only know the costs up-front.
We have to be brave to seek truly new knowledge.
If you look at the history of scientific research you will notice that generally the most wasteful and least beneficial is the glamorous research. Yet this is what tends to get the funding.
Unfortunately governments are often the biggest funders and decide on the winners and losers. All you have to do is to contrast the research of say a thousand randomly chosen and well funded projects with a that of a thousand struggling ones.
As an aside, I appreciate carefully formulated disagreements but not the down arrows of cowards who are too lazy to reason.
“Beneficial” is not the only criterion; it’s pretty hard to see how astronomy could be beneficial, apart from searches for near-earth asteroids, and possibly lunar and planetary geology. But maybe you’re saying that astronomy is glamorous–which I suppose is why NASA likes to release pictures from Hubble and so forth. (Not that I’m opposed–I find astronomy fascinating.)
I am not opposed to fundamental research but to the way funding is allocated. I have, as an example, no difficulties with various pilot projects looking at a different renewable sources of energy. I would, however, like to see far more small projects showing how we can adapt and benefit from climate change. A comparison between the two would point out the best way forward.
I see the down arrow trolls are out again.
Agree about the down votes.
On the issue at hand, the big ticket research can only be undertaken by Governments. No private company can afford to lose that much money on things that may never pay out.
Lots of little things can be funded by lots of little organisations. So why should the Government take that hit? They have other things to do.
You got my down arrow because you are an idiot.
Just a few things that came from a “glamorous project” – Apollo.
Fly by wire systems. Used in all airliners today, in self-driving cars, and some parts of it in all newer cars – such as automatic braking systems so you don’t back over your or your neighbor’s kid.
Massive improvements in food processing and safety. Perhaps you don’t remember, but when I was a child, you ABSOLUTELY had to make sure that any pork product was well and thoroughly done. Shelf lives of <i>everything</i> has been extended, thanks to Apollo astronauts not being able to just pick up something at the corner store.
Insulation that is much lighter, and far more effective per pound. The technology for that is essential for everything from emergency blankets to magnetic resonance imaging.
Shock absorbers for the LEM. Technology used in quake proofing of large buildings.
Minor, unless you suffer from hearing loss – tiny rechargeable batteries for hearing aids.
That you have downvotes is not surprising.
The above comment about “pilot projects looking at different renewable sources of energy” says it all.
If there was a need for “renewable energy” then government funding MIGHT be worthwhile, but since “renewable energy” is essentially worthless, why fund such crap?
If someone thought they could produce a profitable “renewable energy” production system, let them and their supporters, such as YOU fund the research and, if successful reap the rewards when the system becomes profitable. That is what FREE ENTERPRISE is all about.
YOU, AS A LEFTIST, DON’T SUBSCRIBE TO FREE ENTERPRISE, you believe in CRONY CAPITALISM, i.e. using my and other taxpayers funds to promote your wishes.
All scientists struggle to get funding. If they happen to be working on a popular problem, there’s more money, but it ends up getting diluted by all the others who try to climb on board by mentioning the problem in their proposals, even if the problem is probably not relevant to their particular field.
On another matter astronomical closer to home.
Current sunspot cycle SC25 is at its early stages, but couple of tiny sunspots in the N. hemisphere are so close to the solar equator pointing to a weakest cycle in over 200 years.
If there is a sun-climate change link effect might be noticeable only in a decade or even two away from now.
Regretfully that will be far too late to save the world/sc
and the sun has been in a low activity cycle for 35 years now… and yet we still see RISING temperatures and this year is setting temp records in N hemisphere.
almost as if something else is overruling the sun’s climate effect…
Not so, sun has entered reduced (not low) activity since 2014 when the SC4 peaked. Last time sun was in a period of the low activity was at the time of the last solar Grand Minimum 200 years ago. For those 200 years the sun has been warming the oceans and they do have a long thermal memory.
If ever anything overrides the sun’s climate effect, I can assure you you will notice it if you happen to be around.
almost as if something else is overruling the sun’s climate effect
That’ll be your wishful thinking…
While SC24 was low, there certainly wasn’t anything “low” about SC’s 22 and 23, both over 100 on smoothed SSN.
Do you get anything right? Move the slider to 1950 and compare SC21 SC22 SC23 to SC24 and our current one. The Earth is in a cooling trend and they cannot fudge the numbers much longer. https://www.swpc.noaa.gov/products/solar-cycle-progression
Keep those ocean temp cycle blinders firmly attached–or you might learn something.
The CAGW crowd ignored the deeper (say temperature last 200,000 years) paleo record, because it does not support AGW.
As shown in this graph which is the temperature on top of the Greenland Ice Sheet for the last 11,000 years the Greenland Ice has warmed and cooled 9 times in the last 11,000 years. As noted in Rahmstorf’s linked paper these warming periods occur in both the interglacial period and the glacial period.
What is ‘discussed’ by the CAGW crowd, is the fake hockey stick. We are at the end of the warming period.
We are living during a Dansgaard-Oeschger warming period. The D-O warming period occurs in both the glacial and interglacial phase.
During the past D-O warming periods, the Antarctic Ice Sheet cools. This physical fact is called the polar see-saw.
The cyclic warming and cooling also occurs in the interglacial period.
During the D-O warming periods certain specific regions of the earth warm and there are is a pattern change in the geomagnetic field. The same changes happen each C-O cycle because the effect on the geomagnetic field is depend on the orbital parameters, how the solar cycle restarts, and location of the continents.
The region of the earth that warms the most (because of orbital parameters and the location of the continents) is the Greenland Ice sheet which warms about 3C.
The D-O warming periods are 20 years long or 30 years long. After which the temperature drops sometimes abruptly.
The D-O warming periods are captured in high resolution ice cores where there is sufficient yearly snowfall like the Greenland Ice core of the Antarctic Peninsula which juts out of the Antarctic Polar vortex and hence has higher snowfall rates and captures the temperature of the Southern Sea, rather than the Antarctic Ice Sheet Plateau which is high and very cold/dry all year round.
The Antarctic Peninsula Ice core analysis found that the Southern Hemisphere (South Sea) is warming cyclic at the same time and with the same frequency as the temperatures changed on the Greenland Ice sheet.
This is the paper that got a senior Nature editor fired for reviewing it.
Davis and Taylor: “Does the current global warming signal reflect a natural cycle”
“…We found 342 natural warming events (NWEs) corresponding to this definition, distributed over the past 250,000 years …. …. The 342 NWEs contained in the Vostok ice core record are divided into low-rate warming events (LRWEs; < 0.74oC/century) and high rate warming events (HRWEs; ≥ 0.74oC /century) (Figure).
… …. “Recent Antarctic Peninsula warming relative to Holocene climate and ice – shelf history” and authored by Robert Mulvaney and colleagues of the British Antarctic Survey ( Nature , 2012, doi:10.1038/nature11391),reports two recent natural warming cycles, one around 1500 AD and another around 400 AD, measured from isotope (deuterium) concentrations in ice cores bored adjacent to recent breaks in the ice shelf in northeast Antarctica. ….”
“Public media in the U.S., including National Public Radio (NPR), were quick to recognize the significance of this discovery. The past natural warming events reported by Mulvaney et al. are similar in amplitude and duration to the present global warming signal, and yet the past warmings occurred before the industrial revolution and therefore were not caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gases. The present global warming cycle lies within the range of these past natural warming cycles, suggesting that the present global warming cycle may be of natural origin and not caused by human activity–as climate skeptics have been arguing for some time.”
Timing of abrupt climate change: A precise clock by Stefan Rahmstorf
Many paleoclimatic data reveal a approx. 1,500 year cyclicity of unknown origin. A crucial question is how stable and regular this cycle is. An analysis of the GISP2 ice core record from Greenland reveals that abrupt climate events appear to be paced by a 1,470-year cycle with a period that is probably stable to within a few percent; with 95% confidence the period is maintained to better than 12% over at least 23 cycles. This highly precise clock points to an origin outside the Earth system; oscillatory modes within the Earth system can be expected to be far more irregular in period.
Very interesting writeup (I learned something!) but I think you are wasting your time trying to educate our home boy troll.
Lets hope this one won’t need contact lenses.
If it does, well…that’s $10 billion and 25 years down the drain. There’s no way to service JWST once it leaves the launch pad. That departure date has now been moved off of the longstanding 31 October 2021 to “late November or early December 2021”. The JWST launch date is kind of like the arrival of nuclear fusion in that it is always retreating into the future.
“Dark matter does not absorb, reflect, or emit light, so it cannot be seen directly. We know that dark matter exists because of the effect it has on objects that we can observe.)“
There are many troubling things about the continued claims of Dark Matter existence. Too many cosmologists are reputationally bound to lambda-CDM theory being correct.
Just substitute “invisible space aliens” for “Dark Matter,” and then substitute “Democrats” for “objects” in the above statement. It all makes sense then, right?
“invisible space aliens” do not absorb, reflect, or emit light
Well, we know they can’t get a Suntan then!
If God didn’t do it, either the Russians or Climate change did. Or China.
The great thing about inductive propositions is that there are so many to choose from.
The bad thing is people confuse them with the Truth, even the ones that work pretty well.
That also got up my nose. If we admit that we don’t understand physics as well as we think we do, dark matter isn’t necessary. There are alternate theories. example
Okay then … We have this stuff which doesn’t interact with electromagnetic energy but which has a gravitational effect. Presumably it will therefore be attracted by the mass of the sun and the planets. Does it cause friction when you move through it? In that case, how do the planets stay orbiting for billions of years?
Somehow this invisible stuff has an effect far away but doesn’t seem to affect our local physics. That’s almost as unbelievable as string theory. For whatever reason, Russell’s Teapot comes to mind.
Light is electromagnetic energy however it travels along time space lines.
Friction is caused by electromagnetic forces, which by hypothesis dark matter doesn’t “feel”. So there would be no more friction from dark matter than there is from neutrinos, which likewise haven’t slowed the planets.
So, if I throw a baseball into a pile of sand, the mass of the sand has nothing to do with the ball stopping?
Great analogy Joel. Blinded by the success of our results in our limited experiments, we don’t necessarily use the right equations when we calculate the effects of matter on other matter. For example, the gravitational attraction between 2 bodies is F=Gm1m2/R^2…. So one could be led by this equation to conclude that the force of gravity as one approaches the center of the Earth is approaching infinity, when it actually approaches zero due to the mass outside the radius of approach.
No, you wouldn’t conclude that from the equation you write, because as you approach the center of the Earth, its mass is nearly equal in every direction.
Newton had to prove the shell theory. In his Principia, Newton’s theorem 30 (XXX) and theorem 31 (XXX1) do so. Theorem 30 proves that a hollow sphere of uniform density has exactly zero gravitational force anywhere inside (It’s true of any inverse square law–which is why Van de Graaff generators work.). Theorem 31 proves that a hollow sphere of uniform density acts as if all the mass is concentrated at its center when outside of the sphere.
Any solid sphere can be modeled as a series of hollow spheres.
Your formula only applies to point masses.
It’s easy to prove these theorems now–we don’t have to invent integral calculus as Newton did.
I assume since the Webb telescope is so far behind schedule, that a lot of the instruments have been upgraded to current technology? Certainly optics have come a very long way in the past 10 years. Then again no one is ever held accountable in the US government. I give it a 85% chance of getting it into the correct orbit and everything fires up as planned once it is there.
Yes, when and if it gets there and does actually work…I understand there are still problems with the sunshades not being good enough so I wonder just when (and if) it will ever launch.
Fortunately the Hubble is just hanging on by its teeth in the meantime.
Open access unless it’s a Mann manipulation model
I read an article yesterday about a group of astronomers who combined the input of their telescopes using computers and had, in effect, a 2000-mile-wide telescope, as the telescopes were spread all over the world.
I’m waiting for the time when we get a telescope that is as wide as the Moon’s orbit, or larger.
There’s a lot going on in astronomy today. That’s a good thing. We want to know what’s out there.
Excellent article. More like this, please!
Tech writer alert:
”That’s the size of three full moons.”
Actually, its nine, 3×3.
Less skeet for the shotgunners to shoot at and more articles like this one would be much appreciated.
So exciting all this news about a telescope which is not even near the launch site yet.
They are already talking about “legacy” data before getting off the ground.