10. Exploring the early Universe and finding the first galaxies with the James Webb Space Telescope.


ESA supervisor: Rachana Bhatawdekar

Site: ESAC

Understanding the formation of the first sources that reionised the early Universe is one of the major goals of contemporary astronomy. The last decade since the installation of the Wide Field Camera 3  on the Hubble Space Telescope has seen the frontier of galaxy evolution studies pushed well into the epoch of reionisation, with galaxies being discovered out to z= 11. With the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) on Christmas day in 2021, we have entered another period of revolution in this field with a wealth of distant galaxy candidates been reported from the Early Release Observations, the Early Release Science programs and the Guaranteed Time Observations.

To this end, this project will focus on finding and studying the ultra-high redshift galaxies in the first billion years after the Big Bang using the public imaging data stored in the the European JWST Science Archive (eJWST) at the ESAC Science Data Centre (ESDC) in Madrid, Spain. This would involve a trainee learning and applying photometry techniques to construct multiwavelength photometry catalogs, as well as deriving galaxy properties such as photometric redshifts, luminosities, stellar masses and star-formation rates. The study will also potentially provide targets for spectroscopic observations with JWST and it is therefore an excellent opportunity to get involved with JWST work and planning JWST observations. The results of the project could also potentially lay the foundation of a paper.

Project duration: 6 months.

Desirable expertise or programming language:

  • Astrophysics background and understanding of statistics.
  • Some experience with coding languages (like Python, Matlab, IDL etc) is essential.
  • Some experience with Unix is beneficial. 
  • Knowledge of image analysis software like SExtractor, IRAF and photometric redshift fitting codes such as EAZY, would be an asset. 


To apply for this project please fill in an online application form through the following link.