The launch and commissioning of the James Webb SpaceTelescope is ushering in a new era in our understanding of our cosmic origins. Galaxies are a fundamental building block of the universe, yet how they formed has remained enigmatic owing to our inability to observe them at early cosmic times. In just the first eight months of data JWST is already revolutionizing our understanding of the early universe by allowing us to detect and resolve early galaxies at infrared wavelengths. In this talk, I will discuss some of the results that have come out of our work with JWST and their impact on our understanding of the formation and evolution of galaxies. This includes the discovery of candidate galaxies so old and massive they should not exist, the surprising shapes of HST-dark galaxies, and a new method for measuring kinematics that has revealed a monstrous spinning disk 1 billion years after the big bang. The first spatially-resolved infrared look at distant galaxies has revealed that our previous understanding of the emergence of galactic structure was faulty and requires a next-generation set of tools, which we are building. I’ll conclude with a discussion of where the field is moving and the rich discovery space in this new era of extragalactic astrophysics.
Erica June Nelson, University of Colorado
April 05, 2023
3:00pm - 4:00pm