Can JWST be damaged by looking at a bright star?

The Sun as well as particularily bright solar-system objects like Jupiter, Venus or the Moon not meant with this question.

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    $\begingroup$ Do you want to exclude the Sun? I assume yes. Does "a bright star" mean just the stars as we see them currently, or any kind of star at any distance? I assume it's the former. Do you want include or exclude Jupiter? I assume excldue. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jan 26, 2022 at 20:32
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh yes to all $\endgroup$
    – sno
    Jan 26, 2022 at 22:02
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    $\begingroup$ You can definitely damage the detector temporarily, so that you see a "ghost image" of the star on the subsequent exposures. I did that myself with an Earth-based 1.5 m telescope, and JWST's area is ~20 larger and has a ~10 times higher resolution (i.e. the star is "concentrated" on ~1 pixel). I've been discussing with some (5) colleagues whether or not you can damage MIRI permanently, but at the moment I don't have a satisfactory answer. $\endgroup$
    – pela
    Jan 27, 2022 at 12:10
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    $\begingroup$ I've now talked to a colleague who is well-versed in detectors and electronics. He can't say for sure but says that, while you can indeed render part of the detector useless for a while, his gut feeling is that you shouldn't worry about damaging the detector permanently. $\endgroup$
    – pela
    Jan 27, 2022 at 14:07
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    $\begingroup$ I also asked Senior Advisor for Science & Exploration at ESA, Mark McCaughrean, who said "Saturation, ghosting, & persistence are all likely with stars above a certain limit, but I don't believe there's any chance of the detectors being damaged". $\endgroup$
    – pela
    Jan 28, 2022 at 13:37


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