Adam Interviews RIT professor to explore galaxies through new telescope

Adam Interviews

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Jeyhan Kartaltepe, an astrophysicist with Rochester Institute of Technology, wants to know more about the birth of galaxies after the Big Bang.

To do that, she sent her project idea to the folks behind the Jame Webb Space Telescope, which is set to launch Saturday and promises to add onto the monumental findings of Hubble.

That project – a joint effort between RIT and the University of Texas at Austin – was selected and was awarded the most time with the telescope in its first cycle.

Thursday, Kartaltepe talked with Adam Chodak about this opportunity.

Adam Chodak: When I hear you might bring us closer to the Big Bang, what does that mean?

Jeyhan Kartaltepe: So we’re going to be able to observe galaxies that are really far away and since they’re so far away it’s taken their light almost the entire age of the universe to reach us. So astronomy in a lot of ways is like having a time machine so the further away we see things the further back in time we can actually see.

AC: How is Webb an improvement upon Hubble?

JK: It has a larger primary mirror so it allows it to collect a lot more light and therefore detect fainter objects, but also because it’s larger it’s able to see finer details so you can resolve features in galaxies you wouldn’t be able to see otherwise. The other thing that’s unique about Webb compared to Hubble is that it’s more sensitive in the infrared part of the spectrum which is very important for studying distant galaxies.

AC: What does this say about RIT and its staff?

JK: It’s huge. It’s huge for us and really exciting for our colleagues. We were shocked when we first found we were awarded not just a large program, but the largest program that will be observed in Cycle 1 so it will great for the science we want to do and a great opportunity for students and staff at RIT as well.

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