John Mather, Nobel Prize winner for his groundbreaking observational work on the Big Bang, is set to return to the University of New Mexico next week to share insights on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and its early results. The event promises an engaging colloquium and public talk.

Event details...

Public Talk: Opening the infrared treasure chest with JWST (or James Webb Space Telescope) on Thursday, Jan. 25, at 7 p.m., PAÍS 1100

Colloquium: Seeing farther out in space and back in time with the James Webb Space Telescope on Friday, Jan. 26, at 3:30 p.m., PAÍS 1100

** Spillover rooms to view talks virtually will be available in PAÍS in the event of crowd overflow from room 1100.

Mather, from his role as JWST Senior Project Scientist Emeritus, will share his profound interpretation of Webb images and results during these sessions. His public talk, "Opening the Infrared Treasure Chest with JWST," will delve into the telescope's remarkable achievements since its Christmas morning launch in 2021. Mather, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2006 for his work on the Cosmic Background Explorer Satellite (COBE), will discuss the telescope's capability to explore the universe's history, from the Big Bang to the formation of life-sustaining solar systems.

From the early conception stage, Mather has infused The James Webb Space Telescope, perhaps the most complex scientific engine ever built, with now realized promise to change the face of astrophysics and cosmology. Mather led the science team and represented scientific interests across the Webb Mission.

“The JWST opened its great golden hexagonal mirror suite within weeks of its perfect launch on Christmas morning 2021, and by summer, the first results were pouring in,” said Mather. “Who are we, where do we come from, are we alone? I will 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’ve found out.”

In his astrophysics talk, "Seeing Farther Out in Space and Back in Time with the James Webb Space Telescope," Mather will elaborate on the engineering marvel of the JWST and its observations across a broad spectrum. Mather will share images from the telescope that showcase outstanding discoveries and new data. Attendees can expect insights into the universe's expansion, the formation of galaxies, black holes, stars, planets, and the atmospheres of exoplanets.

“We're so excited to welcome John Mather back to UNM. His visit in 2014 was memorable, with a capacity audience in Keller Hall for his public talk that spilled over onto the stage,” said Richard Rand, chair of the UNM Department of Physics & Astronomy. “Now, he is back to tell us about the first results from the JWST, for which he served as senior project scientist for almost 30 years. Expect lovely pictures and surprising results!”

“We expect this extraordinary visit and lectures will enrich our UNM community with dialog on the significance of Webb Science, inclusive of our broad community and those engaged in Astrophysics,” said Tony Hull, adjunct professor in the UNM Department of Physics & Astronomy, who led polishing all the Webb mirrors.

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is set to be the premier observatory of the next two decades, playing a crucial role in advancing our understanding of the universe. With its 6.5-meter primary mirror, JWST aims to explore every phase of cosmic history, providing astronomers worldwide with unprecedented insights.

Take advantage of this rare opportunity to hear from a Nobel prize winner on the latest discoveries and surprises from the James Webb Space Telescope.

For a detailed biography of Mather, visit John Mather Biography.

For more information, visit UNM Department of Physics & Astronomy.

Image credits: 

  • A field of distant galaxies captured by the James Webb Space Telescope. (Image credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI)
  • The "Pillars of Creation" in the Eagle Nebula, imaged by the James Webb Space Telescope's mid-infrared camera instrument (MIRI). (Image credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, J. DePasquale (STScI), A. Pagan (STScI)