Seeing the distant, the dusty and the dark: How the new James Webb Space Telescope will help reveal the origins of our universe, our galaxy, and our world

Presented by ANU College of Science

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is a successor to the successful Hubble Space Telescope and is yet very different.  The most important aspect of JWST is that it works in the infrared, and that makes it possible to address four main scientific goals: The discovery and study of the first stars formed in the Universe; the assembly of stars and matter into the first galaxies; detailed study of star and planetary system formation in the nearby Universe; and the characterization of planets around other stars.

To achieve all this, JWST incorporates bold and challenging engineering innovations, including a segmented main mirror; portions of that mirror that fold into place; a sunshield so that the telescope and its instruments can cool passively to below 40 K, and much more.

In this talk Dr David Soderblom will discuss how the work of Hubble has led to the need for JWST, JWST's scientific capabilities, and its remarkable engineering.  I will also show a short animation of the launch and deployment of JWST into its orbit 1.5 million km from Earth.

Dr Soderblom has been an Astronomer for 32 years at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland USA. STScI is the science operations center for the Hubble Space Telescope and will also operate the James Webb Space Telescope once it is launched in 2018. Dr Soderblom will illustrate some of the findings from Hubble and then explain why a new telescope that is sensitive in infrared light is needed to go further in answering the questions that Hubble has raised.  JWST is technologically challenging, and some of those new features will be described. JWST is a joint mission of the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), each of which has contributed in important ways.