Friends of RAS (Only) Lecture - First Stars and Sensationalism: Early Universe Research in the James Webb Space Telescope Era

An artist’s impression of the first star.jpg
Image title: An artist’s impression of the first star.jpg
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This lecture will be a hybrid event meaning that Friends of the RAS will be able to attend in-person or online via Zoom. A ticket link will be emailed to the Friends of RAS in due course.



In understanding how the Universe began and grew up, we find ourselves in the dark ages, both literally and figuratively. Empty of life and structure, space suddenly illuminated with the light of the first stars, as they roared into life 200 million years after the Big Bang. This time represents the start of the diverse and crowded cosmos we experience today… but there is a missing billion years in our understanding. What did these first stars look like? How are they different from our Sun, and are they now an extinct species? As the James Webb Space Telescope continues to set new records for the farthest galaxy observed, we have now seen light emitted from stars only a few hundred million years after the Big Bang. I will showcase the implications of the new era of JWST for our understanding of the early Universe, and informally discuss how the public and scientific community treat and accept new discoveries.


Speaker bio:

Dr Emma Chapman is a Royal Society research fellow based at the University of Nottingham, where she also leads the outreach effort for the physics department. She is among the worlds leading researchers in search of the first stars to light up our Universe, and published her first popular science book, First Light, in 2020. Her second, third and fourth books are in progress, sometimes all at once. Emma is a respected media commentator on astrophysical matters, but is also vocal about gender equality issues in the sciences. She has been the recipient of multiple commendations and prizes, including the Royal Society Athena Medal for driving nationally impactful policy changes concerning sexual harassment issues in higher education. 


Venue Address

The Royal Astronomical Society,Burlington House


51.5085763, -0.13960799999995