March 22, 2012

ASU astronomer to discuss James Webb Space Telescope

Posted: March 22, 2012
A 2009 artist's conception of the James Webb Space Telescope.
Photo by: NASA

Rogier Windhorst, Regents’ Professor of astronomy at Arizona State University, will give a free lecture on the next generation of space instruments at 7 p.m., March 30, in Bateman Physical Sciences Center F-173 on ASU’s Tempe campus.

Following the lecture will be a free Astronomy Open House from 8 to 10 p.m. on the roof of Bateman Physical Sciences Center H-Wing.

Windhorst’s lecture title is “How Will the James Webb Space Telescope Measure the Epochs of First Light and Galaxy Assembly in the post Hubble Era?”

According to NASA, the telescope is scheduled to launch in 2018.

Windhorst said that the 6.5-meter Jamesebb Space Telescope (JWST) “has the potential to revolutionize astronomy after its launch later this decade – like Hubble has done – by measuring the epochs of First Light and Galaxy Assembly in great detail.”

Windhorst said that work is well under way on JWST. “More than 75 percent of its launch mass has been built, passed final design, or is being built as of Spring 2012.

“All JWST's 18 flight mirrors have been gold-coated, and its optical performance exceed specifications. Its four scientific instruments will be delivered to NASA in 2012.”

During the lecture, Windhorst will show examples of what deep JWST images will look like, sampling young galaxies in the very early universe, including examples of a gravitationally distorted universe acting like a cosmic house of mirrors.

He also will illustrate how JWST will measure star-formation, including new young solar systems, and how it may find water and carbon-dioxide in the atmospheres of Earth-like exoplanets transiting around nearby stars.

The open house will feature a meteorite dig and meteorite display, new high-resolution Moon images, a GEO Club rock display, a planetarium show and telescope viewings, which will include mars and the Orion Nebula.

To get to the open house, go to the main entrance to the Bateman H-wing. Free parking is available after 7 p.m. in the Tyler Street Parking Garage. From the parking garage go west along the University Drive sidewalk (toward campus) until you see signs leading you to the entrance. 

For more information about the lecture and open house, contact Teresa Ashcraft at teresa.ashcraft@asu.edu, or go to http://astopenhouse.com.

Judith Smith, jps@asu.edu
Media Relations