William H. Pickering Lecture: Discoveries with the James Webb Space Telescope 25 January 2023 1630 - 1730

The James Webb Space Telescope was launched on Christmas Day 2021 after 25 years of planning, design, development, integration, and testing. Following a six-month deployment and commissioning period, the first science results from Webb have engaged the public and surprised the scientists.

Webb’s science goals address our origins and the history of the universe: the first stars and galaxies that formed after the Big Band; the morphological and dynamical buildup of galaxies; the formation of stars and planetary systems; and exoplanets, our Solar System, and the conditions for life. 

In its first six months of scientific operations, Webb has already found the most distant galaxies ever seen. The galaxies are so far away that the light that Webb detects has traveled for 13.5 billion years of the 13.8 billion years since the Big Bang, allowing scientists to study early galaxies that formed under very different conditions than we see today. Webb has made the first detection of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of an exoplanet and has examined the interactions between giant stars and the planets that are forming near them.

Jonathan Gardner will review Webb’s construction, launch, and deployments, and discuss the commissioning of the telescope and its instruments. He will describe what scientists have learned in the first six months of science results from the telescope and look ahead to additional results expected in the coming years.

  • Jonathan-Gardner-2022 Jonathan Gardner
    Deputy Senior Project Scientist, James Webb Space Telescope, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center