The Mid-Infrared Instrument for JWST, I: Introduction

G. H. Rieke, G. S. Wright, T. Böker, J. Bouwman, L. Colina, Alistair Glasse, K. D. Gordon, T. P. Greene, Manuel Güdel, Th. Henning, K. Justtanont, P.-O. Lagage, M. E. Meixner, H.-U. Nørgaard-Nielsen, T. P. Ray, M. E. Ressler, E. F. van Dishoeck, and C. Waelkens. 2015. The Mid-Infrared Instrument for JWST, I: Introduction. Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, 127, 953 DOI: 10.1086/682252

MIRI (the Mid-Infrared Instrument for the James Webb Space Telescope [JWST]) operates from 5 to 28.5 μm and combines over this range: (1) unprecedented sensitivity levels; (2) subarcsecond angular resolution; (3) freedom from atmospheric interference; (4) the inherent stability of observing in space; and (5) a suite of versatile capabilities including imaging, low- and medium-resolution spectroscopy (with an integral field unit), and coronagraphy. We illustrate the potential uses of this unique combination of capabilities with various science examples: (1) imaging exoplanets; (2) transit and eclipse spectroscopy of exoplanets; (3) probing the first stages of star and planet formation, including identifying bioactive molecules; (4) determining star formation rates and mass growth as galaxies are assembled; and (5) characterizing the youngest massive galaxies.

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