The launch of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) on Christmas day 2021 was watched with great anticipation around the world. Following its long journey to its observing location a million miles from Earth, and after 6 months of intensive commissioning activities, this novel space telescope’s observations exceed expectations and are changing our perception of the universe in fundamental ways.
This session will summarize why JWST is so ground-breaking and will present a new look at its first science results extending across astrophysics from cosmology to exo-planets by a panel of astrophysicists on the front lines of discovery.
Meet the Speakers
The Plenary brings together incredible and diverse speakers to discuss the ground-breaking James Webb Space Telescope.
Dr. Néstor Espinoza is an Assistant Astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), where he works as the Mission Scientist for exoplanets. His work is focused on the detection of new exoplanets as well as on the characterization of their atmospheres.
Dr. Espinoza was born and raised in Santiago, Chile, and did both his undergraduate and graduate studies at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. After finishing his PhD in 2017, he moved to the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany as the inaugural Heidelberg-Bernoulli Fellow. In 2018, Dr. Espinoza was awarded the prestigious IAU-Gruber Fellowship by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) for his contributions to the field of exoplanetary science. In 2019, Dr. Espinoza moved to STScI, where he both leads an Exoplanet research group which focuses on the characterization of exoplanet atmospheres and leads several teams at STScI in order to provide support for JWST exoplanet science.
Jonathan P. Gardner is the Deputy Senior Project Scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope, a position he has held since 2002 at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. The James Webb Space Telescope, the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, looks backward in time to find the first galaxies that formed after the Big Bang, to trace their evolution into galaxies like our own Milky Way, and to connect the formation of stars and planets with the history of our own Solar System. Gardner received an AB degree from Harvard and MS and PhD from the University of Hawaii. As a NATO Fellow, he did postdoctoral research at the University of Durham in the UK. He came to NASA-Goddard in 1996 to work with the Hubble Space Telescope but soon got involved in the early studies of Webb. His scientific research involves using deep infrared observations to study the statistical evolution of galaxies. On the Webb project, he works with other scientists to ensure the scientific success of the mission, now coming to fruition with Webb’s early results. In addition to his role on Webb, Gardner also served as the Chief of Goddard’s Observational Cosmology Laboratory from 2006 until the launch of Webb on Christmas Day, 2021.
Jeyhan Kartaltepe is an astrophysicist in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the Rochester Institute of Technology. She was born in San Antonio, Texas, then moved to different parts of the US for her BA, MS, PhD, and postdoc before settling in Rochester, New York. She is an expert in the area of galaxy formation and evolution and is interested in understanding how the first stars and galaxies in the universe formed and how various physical processes shaped their transformation into today's galaxies. She is one of the PIs of COSMOS-Web, the largest James Webb Space Telescope program to be observed in its first year of operations, which will map out a large area of the sky in the near- and mid-infrared to study how galaxies in the early universe formed in relation to structures on large scales. She is also a leading co-I on the CEERS program, one of the first programs to obtain observations last summer.