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Looking forward to a huge leap in space exploration

Northwestern astronomer Farhad Yusef-Zadeh discusses his fortune in having time on the James Webb Space Telescope, which will be launched into space this month

Move over, Hubble. The James Webb Space Telescope is finally here.

Twenty-five years in the making, the $10 billion telescope is an unprecedented observatory for space exploration. Unlike Hubble, the James Webb Space Telescope will work in infrared light, providing astronomers — including Northwestern’s Farhad Yusef-Zadeh — with the ability to peer into the early life of the universe, view Earth-size planets outside our solar system and learn about familiar and yet-to-be-discovered objects in our solar system.

NASA plans to launch Webb later this month from Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana, and live coverage will air on its website, NASA TV and the NASA app.

The folded-up telescope with its large mirror – featuring five times the light-gathering power of Hubble — will ride to orbit on a European Ariane 5 rocket. The journey to orbit — a million miles from Earth — will take one nerve-racking month. Once Webb unfolds and is operational, observations and science can begin, approximately six months after launch.

More than 1,000 teams of astronomers from around the world applied for time on Webb during its first year of observations, with only 286 teams successful, according to an article in the journal Science. Zadeh, an expert in multiwavelength astronomy, is leading one of the fortunate international teams. Webb will help him look more closely at a mysterious flashing supermassive black hole located in the center of the Milky Way galaxy.

Zadeh is a professor of physics and astronomy and a faculty member at the Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA) at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.

Northwestern Now spoke to Zadeh about his work studying the black hole called Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*) and its extreme environment and what Webb will enable him to do.

Continue to the full Northwestern News story.

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