Department of Physics & Astronomy
University of New Mexico

Special Talk

Opening the infrared treasure chest with JWST (or James Webb Space Telescope)

Presented by Dr. John C. Mather is a Senior Astrophysicist in the Observational Cosmology Laboratory at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. His research centers on infrared astronomy and cosmology. As Senior Project Scientist (95-present) for the James Webb Space Telescope, he leads the science team, and represents scientific interests within the project management. He has served on advisory and working groups for the National Academy of Sciences, NASA, and the NSF (for the ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter Array, and for the CARA, the Center for Astrophysical Research in the Antarctic). He has received many awards including the Nobel Prize in Physics, 2006, for his precise measurements of the cosmic microwave background radiation using the COBE satellite.

The JWST opened its great golden hexagonal mirror within weeks of its perfect launch on Christmas morning 2021, and by summer the first results were pouring in.

Who are we, where do we come from, are we alone?

I'll talk about the great questions, how we know the story of the expanding universe (aka Big Bang), how we built the JWST, and what we found out.

We're seeing farther out than ever before, and farther back in time than ever before, and the first galaxies aren't quite what we expected.

We're learning about the first supermassive black holes and how they grow.

We're seeing inside dust clouds to discover how stars are born, and we're observing planets around other stars and measuring their chemistry.

So far there's no Earth 2.0, but astronomers are hoping to find one with the next generation of telescopes.

The pictures are magnificent and I'll show some of the latest!

7:00 pm, Thursday, January 25, 2024

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