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James Webb Space Telescope Day

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Probing Exoplanetary Atmospheres with JWST (Prof. Nikku Madhusudhan)

The discoveries of thousands of extrasolar planets have revealed an astonishing diversity in their physical characteristics – orbital properties, masses, radii, temperatures, and host stars. Exoplanets known today range from super Jupiters to Earth-size rocky planets over a wide range of temperatures, including several in the habitable zones of their host stars. The JWST presents an unprecedented opportunity for remote sensing of exoplanetary atmospheres, probing the diversity of their atmospheric properties and a range of physical and chemical processes. I will present an overview of the major questions JWST is expected to address in this area, with implications for our understanding of planetary atmospheric processes, formation and evolution, and the possibility of life elsewhere. I will discuss some early results, ongoing developments, and future directions.

A First Glimpse Of Webb’s Revolution For Our Understanding Of Galaxy Formation (Prof. Roberto Maiolino)

The successful launch, deployment and commissioning of the James Webb Space Telescope, about one year ago, has opened a new era in astronomy and astrophysics. Indeed, in some infrared spectral bands, Webb’s sensitivity is up to three orders of magnitude higher than previous facilities. Such a huge leap in sensitivity has happened very rarely in the history of astronomy and, even more broadly, in the history of science. The major jump in sensitivity, along with the much sharper images delivered by JWST , are of paramount importance to make progress in our understanding of the early phases of galaxy formation in the distant Universe, in particular to explore the first generations of stars and the first black holes.

The first observations released by this fantastic observatory have not disappointed, by delivering several unexpected results.

I will give an overview of the early, exciting findings from the Webb telescope by focusing on the new results on distant primeval galaxies. I will show that some of these discoveries are indeed changing our understanding of galaxy formation in the early Universe and of their subsequent evolution and trasformation across the cosmic epochs.

From Black Hole Singularities to Conformal Cyclic Cosmology (Prof. Roger Penrose)

Prof. Penrose will talk about how his thinking about black holes developed, after many years, into his theory of CCC , a radical new cosmology with strong observational consequences.

This talk is part of the Trinity College Science Society 2022-23 series.

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