Events

Asa Briggs Fellowship Lecture - Reionization: A Cosmic Detective Game

Monday 4 June 18:00 until 20:00
Chowen Lecture Theatre, Brighton and Sussex Medical School, University of Sussex BN1 9PX
Speaker: Steven Finkelstein, Associate Professor of Astronomy, University of Texas and Asa Briggs Fellow
Part of the series: Asa Briggs Fellowship Lecture

Steven Finkelstein, Associate Professor of Astronomy at the University of Texas and Asa Briggs Fellow at the University of Sussex.

Reionization: A Cosmic Detective Game

The early universe was a dramatically different place from today. It was much denser, much warmer, and stars and galaxies then were nothing like they were today. In fact, if we go back early enough, there *were* no stars and galaxies. At some point, a few hundred million years after the Big Bang, the first stars and galaxies were born - we call this time “cosmic dawn”. These galaxies did a lot - they created the first metals in the universe, seeding planets, and eventually life as we know it. Additionally, the energetic light from these young stars changed the universe in a way it hasn’t recovered from. These high energy photons “ionized” the gas between galaxies, known as the intergalactic medium, in a process called “reionization”. This hydrogen gas has remained ionized every since. However, while we *think* it was light from stars in galaxies which provided the needed energy, there is a lot of uncertainty, leaving open the possibility that actively accreting supermassive black holes, or even exotic unknown processes could be contributing. However, help is on the way, as the soon-to-launch James Webb Space Telescope will allow us to peer even further back into the distant universe, finding out who is truly responsible for reionization.

Steven Finkelstein, Associate Professor of Astronomy at the University of Texas and Asa Briggs Fellow at the University of Sussex.

Professor Finkelstein is collaborating with Dr Stephen Wilkins, School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences on the project Exploring the Early Universe with the James Webb Space Telescope. The aim of this fellowship is to facilitate the collaborative definition and writing of a large proposal to secure open time on the upcoming successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope, due for launch in late 2018. The proposed observations will allow Finkelstein and Wilkins to identify and study some of the first objects to form in the Universe.

Chowen Lecture Theatre
Brighton and Sussex Medical School (teaching building)
University of Sussex
Brighton
BN1 9PX

This is a free, open lecture – everyone is welcome, but numbers are limited so please reserve your place here.

Refreshments provided.

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Posted on behalf of: Development and Alumni Relations Office
Last updated: Tuesday, 17 April 2018

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