New Class / New Images: The Remarkable James Webb Space Telescope

Columbia University

David Helfand has been a Professor of Astronomy at Columbia University for 42 years, where he served as chair of the Department for nearly half that time. He is also the former President of the American Astronomical Society and of Quest University Canada, and currently serves as Chair of the American Institute of Physics. Professor Helfand has received the Columbia Presidential Teaching Award and the Great Teacher Award from the Society of Columbia Graduates. He is the author of A Survival Guide to the Misinformation Age.

 

Overview

January 17, 2023, 4:00 pm

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In April of 1990 the Hubble Space Telescope was launched, providing new views of the Universe that have riveted us for a third of a century. But Hubble’s eyes, while vastly larger and unobscured by the atmosphere, are pretty much like our own — limited to just over a single octave of cosmic radiation. One year ago — last Christmas morning — we began opening a new window on the Universe with the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope. By far the most complex device ever placed in space, Webb is allowing us to see how the first stars and galaxies emerged from the Dark Ages of the early Universe, and to assay the atmospheres of planets beyond our solar system in a search for extraterrestrial life.

 

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