James Webb Space Telescope: our experts speak out

The James Webb Space Telescope will become the most important observatory for thousands of astronomers around the world.

The James Webb Space Telescope will become the most important observatory for thousands of astronomers around the world.

Credit: NASA

In 5 seconds

The launch of the most complex and powerful telescope ever built will be commented on by a number of UdeM astrophysicists who contributed to its design.

The James Webb Space Telescope is scheduled to be launched on December 22 with sophisticated instruments on board, including a Canadian guidance sensor largely developed by researchers at Université de Montréal.

Led by Professor René Doyon of the Department of Physics, the astrophysicists of UdeM’s Institute for Research on Exoplanets (iREx) will observe the launch from near and far. Experts in infrared instrumentation, the UdeM team includes professors, scientists and PhD students.

All are now available for comment to journalists.

On launch day, Professor Doyon will be on hand in Kourou, French Guiana, to witness the departure of the telescope aboard an Ariane 5 rocket, while research associate Loïc Albert will observe the process from the mission’s operation centre in Baltimore, Md.

The result of an international collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency, the James Webb will orbit the Sun at 1.5 million kilometers from Earth, becoming the most important observatory for thousands of astronomers around the world.

Here are the UdeM experts involved in the project and its Canadian component, the key instrument known by its acronym FGS/NIRISS (Fine Guidance Sensor / Near Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph).

FGS/NIRISS instrument design; exoplanets; Webb mission overview

René Doyon, Professor, Department of Physics, Principal Investigator of the FGS/NIRISS instrument

Expertise: State-of-the-art astronomical instrumentation for various observatories, on the ground and in space. Brown dwarfs, exoplanets and young low mass stars. Search for extraterrestrial life.

Languages spoken: French, English

Press review of René Doyon

To contact him: rene.doyon(at)umontreal.ca

Observation and characterization of exoplanets; Hot Jupiter exoplanets

Romain Allart, postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Physics

Expertise: Detection and characterization of exoplanets. Velocimetry. Atmospheres and composition of exoplanets.

Languages spoken: French, English

To contact him: romain.allart(at)umontreal.ca

Design of the NIRISS instrument; brown dwarfs

Loïc Albert, researcher at the Department of Physics, NIRISS Instrument Scientist

Expertise: Astronomical observation and instrumentation. Brown dwarfs and rogue planets. Spectral characterization of exoplanets. Numerical simulations (noise effects).

Languages spoken: French, English

Press review of Loïc Albert

To reach him: loic.albert(at)umontreal.ca

Brown dwarfs; data reduction algorithms

Étienne Artigau, researcher in the Department of Physics

Expertise: Astronomical observation and instrumentation. Brown dwarfs and rogue planets. Velocimetry and spectroscopy of exoplanets.

Languages spoken: French, English

To reach him: etienne.artigau(at)umontreal.ca

Observation and characterization of exoplanets; Hot Jupiter exoplanets; rocky exoplanets

Björn Benneke, Professor, Department of Physics

Expertise: Detection and characterization of exoplanets. Atmospheres and climates of exoplanets. Search for extraterrestrial life.

Language spoken: English

Press review for Björn Benneke

To contact him: bjorn.benneke(at)umontreal.ca

Observation and characterization of exoplanets; spectroscopy

Antoine-Darveau Bernier, PhD student in the Department of Physics

Expertise: Detection and characterization of exoplanets. Transit spectroscopy. Velocimetry. Search for extraterrestrial life.

Languages spoken: French, English

To contact him: antoine.darveau-bernier(at)umontreal.ca

Exoplanet observation; transit spectroscopy

David Lafrenière, Professor, Department of Physics, Principal Investigator of the GTO NEAT program

Expertise: Astronomical instrumentation. Spectroscopy and spectrophotometry. Astronomical observations in the infrared. Atmospheres of exoplanets. Low luminosity stars, sub-dwarfs and brown dwarfs. Direct imaging. Search for extraterrestrial life.

Languages spoken: French, English

Press review of David Lafrenière

To contact him: david.lafreniere(at)umontreal.ca

Observation and characterization of exoplanets; the TRAPPIST-1 system

Olivia Lim, PhD student in the Department of Physics

Expertise: Detection and characterization of exoplanets. Habitable zone and search for extraterrestrial life. Velocimetry.

Languages spoken: French, English

To reach her: olivia.lim(at)umontreal.ca

Observation and characterization of exoplanets; Hot Jupiter exoplanets

Stefan Pelletier, PhD student in the Department of Physics

Expertise: Detection and characterization of exoplanets. Atmospheres and climates of exoplanets. Velocimetry. Search for extraterrestrial life.

Spoken languages: French, English

To reach him: stefan.pelletier(at)umontreal.ca

Exoplanet atmospheres; spectroscopy

Jake Taylor, postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Physics

Expertise: Transit spectroscopy. Exoplanet atmospheres and climates. Data reduction algorithms.

Language spoken: English

To contact him: jake.taylor(at)umontreal.ca

Direct imaging of exoplanets

Thomas Vandal, PhD student in the Department of Physics

Expertise: Detection and characterization of exoplanets. Velocimetry. Direct imaging of exoplanets. Interferometry.

Languages spoken: French, English

To contact him: thomas.vandal(at)umontreal.ca

Scientific and educational objectives and overview of the Webb mission; observation of galaxies

Nathalie Ouellette, Outreach Scientist for Webb in Canada, coordinator of the iREx (Institute for Research on Exoplanets), UdeM

Expertise: Formation and evolution of galaxies. Space exploration. Space astronomy. Science communication, education, public outreach.

Languages spoken: French, English

Press review of Nathalie Ouellette

To reach her: nathalie.ouellette.2(at)umontreal.ca

Media contact

  • Jeff Heinrich
    Université de Montréal
    Tel: 514 343-7593
  • Marie-Ève Naud
    Institut de recherche sur les exoplanètes de l'UdeM
    Tel: 514-279-3222

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