Since the launch of the NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) a bit over a year ago, JWST has delivered astounding new observations of the early universe. It has enabled us to peer deeper than ever before into the distant past of our universe and delivered new insights as well as revealed new puzzles about early galaxy formation and supermassive black hole growth.
Hosted by Christina Eilers and Rob Simcoe from MKI, the First Light Conference at MIT’s Samberg Center from June 12-16 brings together observers and theorists from around the world to discuss some of the early results with JWST on the high-redshift universe. During the conference there will also be a public outreach event at the MIT Museum with a special JWST-themed IPA from Cambridge’s Lamplighter Brewery, and stargazing with telescopes in MIT’s Open Space.
“First light” refers to the first luminous sources in the universe, which JWST is now able to detect for the first time. According to Eilers, it is now possible to see some of the new phenomena through JWST, such as the most distant quasars (the most luminous objects in the universe), the environment around distant quasars (which could help map the dark matter of the early universe), and the very first, faintest galaxies (which can help scientists figure out what drove the period of Reionization, when the universe transitioned from a mostly dark and dense fog, to ionized gas that condensed into the first stars and galaxies).
See 3Q: Exploring the universe’s “first light”
Q: What have astronomers seen so far of the universe’s “first light”?
Q: What have people learned about how the telescope works in its first year?
Q: What are you hoping to see in the second year of observations?