NIRISS Non-Redundant Mask

The JWST NIRISS non-redundant mask (NRM) enables the aperture masking interferometry mode which is a high spatial resolution, moderate-contrast imaging technique.

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See also: NIRISS Aperture Masking Interferometry

NIRISS has a non-redundant mask (NRM) that enables aperture masking interferometry (AMI), which is a high resolution, moderate-contrast imaging technique. Examples of science enabled by this mode include direct imaging of binaries, exoplanets, transitions disks, and the environments around bright active galactic nuclei.

The NRM is an opaque element with 7 hexagonal apertures located in the pupil wheel. The apertures are undersized with respect to the projected dimensions of the mirror segments to avoid image degradation from the mirror edges, struts supporting the secondary mirror, and secondary mirror. The 15% throughput 7-holes mask offers simultaneous, multi-baseline interferometry and is used with the NIRISS long wavelength medium-band (F380M, F430M, and F480M) and F277W broadband filters.

Figure 1. NIRISS non-redundant mask (NRM)

Left: NIRISS's titanium NRM prior to blackening. Right: A full scale prototype NRM showing the JWST primary mirror segments and secondary mirror supports engraved on it. In this re-imaged pupil plane, the diameter of the circumscribing circle of the full pupil is nominally 40 mm. The holes are undersized to allow pupil placement error of up to 3.8% of the pupil diameter. (Sivaramakrishnan et al, 2014).

When viewing a point source, the NRM offers 21 unique baselines defined by the pairs of holes in the mask to create a sharply peaked interferogram. None of the 21 separations between the different aperture pairs that define the baselines are the same, and hence, this element's reference as a "non-redundant" mask. Objects as close as δθ 0.5 λ/D (inner working angle) can be resolved.

The interferogram generated by the NRM has a PSF with a profile that is more than twice as sharp as the full aperture PSF, but with much broader wings. The fringe patterns created by the multiple holes in the mask are imprinted in the broad wings, allowing the retrieval of information at smaller spatial scales than possible with the full aperture PSF.

Figure 2. NIRISS AMI point spread function (from cryovac data)

This is an image (on a linear stretch) of a thermal point source taken during cryo-vacuum testing, using the NIRISS F380M filter. The sharp core with a dark area around it is one feature of this NRM image. Another feature is the extended "fringing" around the core. The contrast present in these fringes helps explain why NRM images push theoretical resolution limits, and why relative astrometry with NRM is so sensitive. The science data coordinate system directions are shown in this cropped (35 × 35 pixels) image.

Filters used with NRM to enable AMI Mode

See also: NIRISS Filters, NIRISS Sensitivity, NIRISS Bright Limits, HCI NIRISS Limiting Contrast

NRM will be used in conjunction with F277W, F380M, F430M, or F480M; these filters were chosen to capture spectral regions of scientific interest. The bandpasses are relatively narrow to preserve the non-redundancy of the u − v (i.e., spatial frequency) coverage. The properties, including estimated saturation limits in the NIRISS filter bandpasses and in the WISE W1 (3.4 μm) and W2 (4.2 μm) bands, are listed in Table 1.

Figure 3 shows the transmission curves for these filters.

Figure 3. Filters for use with AMI mode

A figure showing transmission curves of AMI filters, based on measurements at cryogenic temperatures by the manufacturer.

Table 1. NIRISS AMI filter properties

Filterλavg (μm)aΔλ/λbIWA (mas)cCPFMagnitude saturation (20,000 e-) limit
for Ngroups = 2

























a \lambda_{\rm avg} corresponds to the average wavelength of the filter (\frac{\int P_\lambda\, \lambda\, d\lambda}{\int P_\lambda\, d\lambda}), where P_{\lambda} is the filter throughput.

b Δλ/λ is the fractional bandpass, defined as \Delta \lambda/\lambda = RW/\lambda_{\rm avg}, where RW (the Rectangular Width) is the Equivalent Width/max(P_\lambda), and  EW = \int P_\lambda\, d\lambda.

Inner working angle (IWA) for deepest contrast. Beyond 400–500 mas NIRCam coronagraphs provide higher contrasts.

d CPF is the central pixel fraction, corresponding to the fraction of the total PSF flux in the brightest pixel. It is reported here assuming a 79x79 pixel field-of-view which is relevant to the SUB80 subarray used for most AMI observations.

e When 2 neighboring pixels accumulate charge at very different rates, the brighter pixel “spills” photoelectrons on to its neighbor, but the reverse does not occur. This effect becomes pronounced above about 20,000 e- in the bright pixel. We mitigate this effect in AMI data by setting a signal limit lower than the true non-linearity-based saturation limit for the NIRISS detector. The magnitude system uses the CALSPEC Sirius model from Bohlin 2022 as a standard star with a magnitude of -1.395 in all filters (Rieke et al. 2022).

For Ngroups = 1 the bright limit will be approximately 0.60 mag brighter.

The NIRISS magnitudes in filters F277W and F380M roughly correspond to WISE W1 magnitudes. The NIRISS magnitudes in filters F430M and F480M roughly correspond to WISE W2 magnitudes. There is a ±0.05 magnitude uncertainty due to the conversion from NIRISS magnitude to WISE magnitudes, which is a function of the spectral shape of the source. The magnitudes of the WISE and NIRISS filters should match for an average A0V star and WISE magnitudes are predicted to be slightly smaller than the NIRISS magnitudes for later spectral types. There is an additional uncertainty of order ±0.1 in the simulated NIRISS magnitudes for a given spectrum due to uncertainties in the NIRISS throughputs and quantum efficiency.


Artigau, E., Sivaramakrishnan, A., et al. 2014, arXiv:1406.6882
NIRISS Aperture Masking Interferometry: An overview of science opportunities

Greenbaum, A.Z., Pueyo, L., Sivaramakrishnan, A., Lacour, S., 2015, ApJ, 798, 68

An image-plane algorithm for JWST's non-redundant aperture mask data

Rieke, G., H., Su, K., Sloan, G., C., Schlawin, E., 2022, AJ, 163, 45
Infrared Absolute Calibration. I. Comparison of Sirius with Fainter Calibration Stars

Sivaramakrishnan, A., Tuthill, P., Lloyd, J. P., et al., arXiv:2210.17434
The Near Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph for the James Webb Space Telescope – IV. Aperture Masking Interferometry.

Sivaramakrishnan, A., et al. 2014 STScI Newsletter 31 1
Aperture-Masking Interferometry with Webb’s NIRISS

Sivaramakrishnan, A. et al., 2009, SPIE, 7440
Planetary system and star formation science with non-redundant masking on JWST

Notable updates
    Updated charge migration limit to 26,000e- based on measurements from in-flight data in the F480M filter.

    Updated to reflect in-flight performance.

    Updated Table 1
Originally published