JWST's PEARLS: Transients in the MACS J0416.1−2403 Field

Haojing Yan, Zhiyuan Ma, Bangzheng Sun, Lifan Wang, Patrick Kelly, José M. Diego, Seth H. Cohen, Rogier A. Windhorst, Rolf A. Jansen, Norman A. Grogin, John F. Beacom, Christopher J. Conselice, Simon P. Driver, Brenda Frye, Dan Coe, Madeline A. Marshall, Anton Koekemoer, Christopher N.A. Willmer, Aaron Robotham, Jordan C.J. D’SilvaJake Summers, Mario Nonino, Nor Pirzkal, Russell E. Ryan, Rafael Ortiz, Scott Tompkins, Rachana A. Bhatawdekar, Cheng Cheng, Adi Zitrin, S. P. Willner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With its unprecedented sensitivity and spatial resolution, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has opened a new window for time-domain discoveries in the infrared. Here we report observations in the only field that has received four epochs (spanning 126 days) of JWST NIRCam observations in Cycle 1. This field is toward MACS J0416.1−2403, which is a rich galaxy cluster at redshift z = 0.4 and is one of the Hubble Frontier Fields. We have discovered 14 transients from these data. Twelve of these transients happened in three galaxies (with z = 0.94, 1.01, and 2.091) crossing a lensing caustic of the cluster, and these transients are highly magnified by gravitational lensing. These 12 transients are likely of a similar nature to those previously reported based on the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) data in this field, i.e., individual stars in the highly magnified arcs. However, these 12 could not have been found by HST because they were too red and too faint. The other two transients are associated with background galaxies (z = 2.205 and 0.7093) that are only moderately magnified, and they are likely supernovae. They indicate a demagnified supernova surface density, when monitored at a time cadence of a few months to a ∼3-4 μm survey limit of AB ∼28.5 mag, of ∼0.5 arcmin−2 integrated to z ≈ 2. This survey depth is beyond the capability of HST but can be easily reached by JWST.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number43
JournalAstrophysical Journal, Supplement Series
Issue number43
StatePublished - Dec 1 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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