» » J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

Любовь Стрельникова: Дорогие друзья, добрый день, добрый вечер, доброй ночи и доброе утро всем, кто сейчас уютно расположился у экранов своих мониторов и компьютеров с чашечкой чая или кофе, кто видит и слышит нас благодаря интернету. Мы находимся в одном из залов крупнейшего российского информационного агентства РИА «Новости». Это совершенно замечательный зал, потому что он оснащен суперсовременной техникой. И эта техника позволяет нам сегодня быть на прямой связи с НАСА, США, где уже расположился, тоже вполне уютно, как я вижу, наш гость и наш собеседник, лауреат Нобелевской премии по физике 2006 года, доктор, профессор Джон Мазер. Доброе утро, Джон!

John C. Mather: Good morning.

Любовь Стрельникова: Очень рады видеть вас в добром здравии и такой великолепной физической форме. Из этого зала будет идти прямая трансляция вашей лекции в интернет, которую смогут увидеть тысячи людей в разных городах и в разных уголках нашей необъятной страны. Но прежде чем мы приступим к этой лекции, я должна всё-таки сказать несколько обязательных и важных слов.

Праздник интеллектуального общения, на котором мы сегодня присутствуем и в котором мы будем участвовать, состоялся благодаря усилиям двух организаций — фонда «Династия» и агентства РИА «Новости». Я хочу напомнить всем нашим уважаемым зрителям, кто слышит и видит нас, что фонд «Династия» — Джон, вам это будет интересно, — это первый частный благотворительный фонд в России, и этот фонд учредил на свои личные средства Дмитрий Зимин. Это очень известный в России человек, потому что он основал сотовую связь в России и первую компанию — «Вымпелком». Главная цель фонда — отыскивать и поддерживать молодых талантливых людей в науке и образовании, потому что, как считает Дмитрий Борисович, именно талантливые люди могут изменить нашу жизнь и наш мир к лучшему. Полагаю, что вы вполне разделяете это мнение.

John C. Mather: (Nods to express his agreement.)

Любовь Стрельникова: У фонда «Династия» есть обширная программа популяризации науки. Вы в курсе, вы согласно киваете. И в рамках этой программы есть проект — «Наука без границ», согласно которому фонд «Династия» привозит в Россию звезд мировой науки для того, чтобы они прочитали публичные лекции. И у нас уже в России побывали Нобелевский лауреат Джеймс Уотсон, у нас побывал Нобелевский лауреат Дэвид Гросс, и ваш знаменитый физик Фримен Дайсон, и многие другие. Они прочитали блестящие лекции. Сегодня в этой череде — ваша лекция. Но она, к сожалению, такая, почти виртуальная. Мы не можем вас, Джон, извините, осязать. Мы можем вас только видеть и слышать. Это первая такая лекция, в таком необычном формате. Будем надеяться, что всё технически сработает безупречно, но если вдруг возникнут какие-то проблемы, заранее просим извинить наших уважаемых зрителей, это наш первый опыт.

И, наконец, два слова о второй главной организации — участнике этого события. Это, конечно, российское агентство информации РИА «Новости». РИА «Новости» тоже создало свою программу популяризации науки и просвещения и 2 июля запустило свой научно-просветительский мультимедийный проект «Мозаика знаний». В рамках этого проекта был создан научно-просветительский клуб «Лекторий — Мозаика знаний», который приглашает и объединяет людей разных профессий, разного образования, разного возраста, всех тех, кто разделяет идею непрерывного самообразования, кто готов делиться своими знаниями, своим накопленным и переосмысленным опытом.

Что еще мне важно сказать? Я бы хотела вам, Джон, представить тех, кто сидит в этом зале. В этом зале сидит ваша группа поддержки. Это журналисты самых разных изданий, это ученые, это сотрудники фонда «Династия» и сотрудники агентства РИА «Новости», и позвольте мне представить вам директора фонда «Династия» Анну Пиотровскую. А также руководитель, директор программ фонда, с которым вы знакомы заочно, Константин Петров. Вот теперь вы знаете, как выглядит Константин Петров. И наконец, я хочу представить вам Альбину Пылаеву, продюсера этого проекта, продюсера проекта «Мозаика знаний» в РИА «Новости».

Итак, все важные слова сказаны, и теперь я с удовольствием предоставляю слово Нобелевскому лауреату по физике 2006 года профессору Джону Мазеру, и мы сейчас все вместе с вами послушаем лекцию «От Большого взрыва — к Нобелевской премии и границам Вселенной». Ну а после лекции мы сможем задать Джону Мазеру любые вопросы. Вопросы будут из зала, и вопросы будут поступать к нам по Интернету. Вы готовы, Джон?

John C. Mather: Yes, I’m ready.

Любовь Стрельникова: Удачи вам!

 

J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

 

John C. Mather: So, greetings from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center here in Maryland in the United States. It is the largest scientific laboratory for NASA, and this where I have been working for a long time, since 1976, and now I want to tell you the story of the work that I have been doing for much of this time — and the work of many others. So, I want to tell you about the history of the universe.

So, do you actually see on your screen my view graphs, my computer presentation?

 

J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

 

OK, very good. So, I will try the next slide. See the thin trees up correctly? Good. I want to show where I started up my scientific career, as a child. This is a spot in New Jersey, which is an experimental farm of the Rutgers University of New Jersey. That is the place where my father was studying dairy cows, the production and improvement of milk from dairy cows. And it was also a very nice for a very young place for a very young person, such as myself, to read many books and to look at the sky at night. So, no one ever knows what the history will produce.

 

J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

 

So, now I want to tell you what the astronomers are busy doing. We have, as the astronomers, the task of understanding the entire history of the universe and how it produces the possibility for life here on the Earth. So, the astronomers start from the picture of the Big Bang, as seen from the inside.

And I will tell you more about how we measured this. We have ideas about how the first galaxies and stars were made and how they changed with time. We have ideas about how stars enabled planets to exist. And, finally, how they enabled the possibility for life to occur. As you see there, in the middle of the screen, there are many possibilities that exist. So, astronomers have the easier part: we have to explain the physical part. And, eventually, the biologists will have to explain the biological part, which is much more difficult.

 

J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

 

Now, I would like to give you a bit of a surprise here: when one wakes up in the morning to comb one’s hair or to prepare to depart for the day, you are already looking at evidence of that beginning of the universe. Because, when you look at yourself, you are looking at atoms that did not exist in the Big Bang material, but were produced later — by generations of stars which exploded and liberated their material back out into the outer space and it’s come back to be rig-formed and recycled into stars and planets. And we, therefore, are able to live on the planet Earth, because the previous stars exploded and then recycled.

So, it’s a strange and exotic story that we have to tell, but any story that would explain the whole history of the universe would, indeed, be strange and exotic.

 

J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

 

Now, the next turned, I will explain a little bit for a general public about how astronomers are able to tell that story.

So, the first and, perhaps, the most important thing is that astronomers are able to look directly back in time. Light travel extremely rapidly, but its speed is, nevertheless, is not infinity. So, we are able to look back in time — small amounts or larger amounts, according to how far away we are looking. So, if you see at the Sun, you see it how it was 500 seconds ago; the nearest other star — as it was about four years ago; or, if you were able to look at the most distant things in the universe, you’d see them how they were about 15 thousand million years ago. And the best current number is 13.7 thousand million years ago.

So, we are able to look back in time, unlike all other scientists. Now, geologists, do, indeed, look back at old rocks, and historians look at old documents. But astronomers look at things as they actually were thousands up to billions years ago.

Our penalty, our challenge is that the images that we get are fuzzy and faint — and require a lot of calculation effort. But, nevertheless, we do, indeed, see the things as they were when light was sent out billions of years ago.

 

J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

 

So, the next question that the public would have is: «How far back are you looking in time?» So, we have our quest just to measure distances.

So, we measure distances in the same way as the ancient Greek astronomers and the ancient Egyptian astronomers could do. We use the rules of trigonometry: if you know one side of the triangle and you know two of the angles, you can calculate the entire shape of the triangle. So, this is, basically, surveying — that has been done for thousands of years.

And the other technique is to use the standard candles: if a star is believed to be exactly like another star, but it appears fainter, then we say that it is farther away and, according to what we call the inverse square law for brightness of stars.

So, the combination of measuring distances and knowing the speed of light enables us to not only measure the size of the universe, but also its age.

 

J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

 

So, the other thing we would like to know is how fast are things moving. Very few things will run rapidly enough across the sky for us to recognize their motion. But a few things are enough.

The other thing we are looking forward to measure is the rate of motion towards us or away from us. So, this chart shows the so-called Doppler shift. The Doppler shift has been known since the 19th century, and it was first observed with sound waves.

For astronomy, we use spectroscopy. We spread out the wave from a distant star with a prism or a grate in spectrometer, and, when we do that for the Sun, we see that there are dark lines across the spectrum, which are due to critical atoms and molecules in the atmosphere of the Sun.

And when we do the same thing with distant stars and distant galaxies, we see the same patterns of lines or the similar ones, but the wavelengths there are quite different. And we attribute this to the relative motion of those objects compared to ourselves.

So, we see that the most distant objects in the universe are actually going away from us quite fast. And we measure them for fastness by the change in wavelengths that we recognize in these spectra.

 

J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

 

So, in 1929, Edwin Hubble made this chart and discovered, basically, that the universe appears to be expanding. Now, the lot of dots and circles on this chart represent individual galaxies. He was the first person to be able to measure the distance to other galaxies by studying the standard candles that he saw in them: they are pulsating stars that we recognize as standard candles, and so we can use their relative brightness to estimate distance. And he was also able to measure their speed from the Doppler shift.

So, this is the chart that he made, and what we see is that almost all of the galaxies are going away from us very rapidly — at hundreds and thousands of kilometers per second. And, if you divide the apparent speed into the distance, you can estimate the time it has taken to achieve all of these positions.

So, it appears that all of the distant galaxies are receding from us at the speed proportional to distance. Divide distance by speed and retain the age of the universe.

So, in 1929, when he discovered this, it was a very very important discovery — and was an almost complete surprise for anyone in the entire world, anywhere, with those news, headline news around the world that year — a much better news than the news of the economic collapse that occurred at the same year.

 

J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

 

So, on this next chart I have illustrated some of the most famous scientists who worked on this subject. In the center, you see Albert Einstein, a very familiar kind of picture. In 1916, he gave us the General Theory of Relativity, which explains that the effect of gravity is to curve space-time. And so, this was a very surprising and puzzling prediction for him, but his calculations were quite quickly verified by measurements.

In 1922 the young man Alexandre Fridman, who is shown there on the left side of the picture, was working in Leningrad, and he said, «OK, I understand Einstein’s equations, and I predict that the universe was expanding from its initial condition.» And Einstein said, «That could not possibly be right».

In 1927 George Lemaitre, who is shown in the center there with Einstein, repeated the calculation and got the same answer, and, again, Einstein said, «That could not possibly be correct».

So, two years after that, Edwin Hubble published the chart that I just showed you and, of course, Einstein had to apologize for his crude behavior and his failure to understand the nature of the universe.

I’ve shown also some more modern scientists here: George Gamov is shown in the upper right corner. He came from Odessa to the United States, and in 1948, he was working with the two young men — Robert Herman and Ralph Alpher — who are shown in the lower left corner. They were calculating the story of the Big Bang, and they actually predicted that the universe should be filled with the heat of the Big Bang radiation. So, this is very bright radiation in relative terms — approximately 1 microwatt per square meter. And they predicted it correctly in 1948. It was not possible at that time to measure it, because technical means of that time were too primitive.

Now, in the lower right corner, I have two very modern scientists — Rashid Syunyaev and Jim Peebles — who are now making calculations for many years and telling us what we should see when we actually go and measure the sky. And they have been the pioneers in theoretical calculation.

 

J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

 

So, now, in my next chart, I want to explain, that although everyone pictures the universe expanding from a point, it is not the way that that it seems to be to us. What we seem to see is that there is no center of the universe; there is no edge. And all of the astronomers that calculate the Hubble’s Law from observations like these would all believe that they were in the center of the universe.

So, since they all so believe, they are in the center, but there cannot be a center. So far, we cannot see that there is a center. It is not completely impossible, but no observations have shown any sign of a center or an edge of the universe. So, this is a very surprising combined result from all those calculations.

 

J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

 

But it also means that it’s impossible for us to draw a picture, unlike we do in showing you the red color to signify that we cannot draw a picture.

So, we, the human beings, live in the three dimensions of space and one of time. But, to be able to look at the universe from the outside the universe, would require a higher number of dimensions, which we can only imagine and cannot draw. So, I’m sorry, we cannot draw you a good picture, and we cannot see the center or the edge, if there is one.

 

J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

 

So, here I would like to summarize the history of the early universe.

So, if we imagine that the primordial material, whatever it may have been, may have actually extended infinitely far in every dimension, and there may have been more than the four dimensions that we know about.

So, some small portion of this material did something strange and began to expand. It expanded so fast that even light could not keep up with the expansion.

So the small volume that I’ve just described, 10 cm in size, we imagine to accelerate very rapidly and become the entire expanding universe we are now able to observe.

An extremely implausible story, but, nevertheless, the one that seems the best — at the moment.

 

J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

 

You will also ask, how the entire universe fitted in that small volume that I’ve just mentioned. And there are many parts to this.

One is that space itself is extremely empty: stars are very very far apart from one another.

Even atoms are almost completely empty: the atomic nuclei are very tiny compared to the size of the whole atom. And if you could reach inside the atomic nuclei, you can actually tear them apart and find that they are maid of even smaller particles called quarks and gluons.

So, the calculation says that it is actually not as impossible as you might think, for the entire present day universe to be produced from this very small volume of primordial material.

This is the story of what is called «inflation» and has been known since the middle of the 1980s.

 

J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

 

So, now, the next question for us we are due to want to know is «How is it possible that we can exist?» Since the universe is expanding and we do not see ourselves as expanding, how can we exist?

So, the short region of the answer is that gravitation, which is across the universe, is actually apt to stop the expansion for regions of the universe that are slightly more dense than average. So, it means that some parts that were initially created in the Big Bang material that are more dense — the will stop expanding; they will turn into galaxies and clusters of galaxies — and then — stars.

And, therefore, it is possible for the Sun to exist and for the Earth to exist and for all of the complex life here on Earth to exist. It all depends on the fact that gravitation is able to stop the expansion of the certain parts of the universe.

So here we are.

 

J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

 

So, on this chart I have shown the short graph of the early history of the universe. Here you should see a picture of the Big Bang, as measured by the cosmic background radiation explored at the WMAP observatory.

And we imagine that the galaxies were formed from small parts that flowed together as small streams flow together to form giant rivers.

And, then, in the lower left corner I have a picture of the nearest galaxy, the nearest large galaxy, — it’s called the Andromeda Nebula. You can see that it’s very beautiful, and it has even two small satellite galaxies orbiting around it.

So, I will skip some of the history of the universe here. I’ll just mention a few of the major events:

When the universe was just about three minutes old, the atomic nuclei of helium were formed from protons and neutrons.

When the universe was about 389,000 years old, the electrons found the atomic nuclei and the gaseous material became transparent, instead of being a hot plasma.

So, when the universe became transparent, then the primordial heat radiation, which could travel only very short distance before that, — afterwards it was able to travel all the way across the universe.

So, we are now sitting here on Earth, and we are able to measure and observe the primordial heat radiation as it was when the space became transparent when the universe was 389,000 old.

So, after that, the first stars formed, and I’ve never seen how that occurred, but we calculate there must be something to make them form from gas.

And then, the great surprise occurred 5 billions years ago: the universe began to accelerate again. So, it’s going faster and faster every year — a tremendous surprise!

 

J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

 

So now, I’d like to illustrate some of the events that probably happened to the Earth. The Sun and the first solid bodies in the solar system were formed 4.567 billion years ago — only about 1/3 of the age of the universe. And, so, we have this very precisely measured from radioisotopes and the tiny particles that we have retrieved from meteorites.

So, about 90 million years later, a small planet, probably, about the size of Mars, which we have given the name of Theia, — it is said to have hit the Earth, and it would have knocked anything off the Earth, and materials, like carbon and hydrogen, would have gone back out into space. The rock in debris was left and reformed into the Earth and the Moon about 90 million years after the formation of the Solar system. So, then, following that, the Earth began to cool.

Then, about several hundred million years later, Jupiter and Saturn are thought to have switched their orbits twice. And so, during that period of time, the Earth was bombarded with very many meteorites and comets, and water and carbon, probably came to Earth during that period of time.

Then, at the end of that, the life is supposed to have formed. There is vast full evidence that life could have formed as soon as the conditions became suitable here, on Earth, and the temperature was low enough, and there was enough water for produce to occur.

Another interesting fact is that the early Sun was, probably, much more active and had many-many spots on it and has been getting brighter with time and making the Earth get warmer and warmer. So, it’s possible even that there was a completely frozen stage for some portions of that early life.

 

J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

 

So, as you know, no doubt, also, the continents here on the Earth were moving over the course of time, and they were causing the tremendous changes to the atmospheric composition. Sometimes, it appears that the atmosphere was poisonous — full of carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide. But, over time, those molecules would go back into the rocks through biological and chemical activity of many kinds.

So, there are these many continents that the scientists and geologists have recreated in their maps. And, very recently, only a hundred million years ago, the Atlantic ocean opened up separating both Americas from Europe and Asia, and all the latter from Africa.

 

J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

 

Very recently, the human beings came to live in Africa. And the start or the origin of the human race is in Africa about 150,000 years ago — very recent, during an Ice Age, where much of the world was dry and much of the world was covered by ice.

So, I don’t have time to tell you all of the stories about this. I would just like, however, to point out that it is also the 400 years of telescopic astronomy: Galileo pointed his small telescope at the sky — and we have been celebrating it all around the world with the International Year of Astronomy.

I have some bad news for the future: it’s possible that all of the carbon dioxide will be used up by biological activity and will become limestone. And, at that point, the Earth will become very cold, because we will be completely out of — we will have no greenhouse gases left. That’s a possibility and may not become true, since we cannot predict the geological future very well.

About a billion years into the future, our Sun will become so bright that it will become too hot for us here, regardless of whatever we may do as living beings.

Then, in about 5 billion years, the Sun will actually swell and become so large that the Earth orbits within the surface of the Sun. And, at that time, the Earth may be destroyed.

At about the same time, the beautiful Andromeda Nebula that I showed you a few minutes ago will collide with the Milky Way, and it will be a spectacular time to be an astronomer, but we will have to move to some other planet. Not that we know how to do that, but some future astronomer on some other planet will have a good time.

In about 7.6 billion years, the Sun will be extinguished and will become a white dwarf star.

And, many billions of years after that, we anticipate that, as the universe will continue to accelerate, the distant galaxies will go away, all the stars will burn out — and it will become dark.

But this is only a theoretical prediction, and there are many other possibilities, including the possibility that the acceleration will stop, and the galaxies will flock back together — and then there will be a cosmic collapse. We don’t know, of course.

 

J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

 

Now, I would like to tell you a little bit of the story about my personal work that led to Nobel Prize.

In 1974, I graduated the higher school in Berkley, California, after an attempt to measure the cosmic heat radiation from the Big Bang. It was not a successful attempt, but it showed us that we needed to do a better job. And we all knew that a better measurement could be done with a space mission.

So, in 1976, when I came to Goddard Space Flight Center, we began to design this observatory, called the Cosmic Background Explorer. And what you see here, in the picture, is a guard shield of that golden-yellowish covered cone, and inside the cone there are instruments or, rather, they are the collections of instruments. Two of them are inside the helium tank — and that operate at the temperature of 1.5° above absolute zero. And the others are surrounding the tank and are just protected from the Earth and the Sun, so that they can become cold.

So, this observatory is still in orbit around the Earth, but it was only used for about five years to make the initial observations.

So, it’s called the Cosmic Background Explorer and one could still clearly see it in the evening if one turns up to look.

 

J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

 

Now, this is the chart that shows the first scientific result of this mission. We show here the prediction of the spectrum of cosmic microwave heat radiation. The smooth curve is the prediction, and the first measurements that we reported are the little boxes on the curve. You will see that all the little boxes are exactly on the curve, which was exactly what was to be expected, but it was not a known fact. And when we showed that measurement to the Astronomical Society, we received the standing ovation and many minutes of applause.

So, what it means is that the Big Bang Theory is actually correct... well, as close to be proven as possible. There is no proof of a thing so dramatic as the Big Bang theory. But all of the measurements now agree with it, and this is one of the most important parts of the evidence.

So, we now really do believe that the universe came from the Big Bang that produced this heat radiation, which is measured. Now, after many years of effort, we now know that its temperature is exactly 2.725 K and its bias is very very tiny — about 50 parts per million.

 

J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

 

So, this was the first major result of the observatory. And two years later, in 1992, we showed those several charts to Stephen Hawking, the famous physicist and scientists, and he said that it was the most important discovery of the century, if not of all time.

So, what we have here is the map of the temperatures of the heat radiation from the Big Bang. The each of the ovals there that you see is the map of the entire sky.

So, the first map, the top one shows the raw data as they come in. And all we can see is that one side of the sky is a little pinker and the other side is a little greenish. And we say that it has to do with the fact that the Earth is moving relative to the rest of the universe.

When we remove that effect mathematically, we see that picture in the middle: and what we now see is a red band across the middle, which is due to the electron population in our own Milky Way Galaxy.

When we remove that one, as well, by doing some more mathematics, we see the picture at the bottom, which is the map of the temperature of radiations across the sky — of that primordial heat radiation.

So, those differences are very small — approximately 0.00003 K. So, there we have to believe that those temperature variations are responsible for our own existence — or that they are produced by dark matter, which is a new discovery from astronomers, and they are responsible for the density variations that enable some regions of the universe to stop expanding and to turn around and become galaxies, stars and planets.

So, something like one of these small spots is responsible for our own existence. Now, we can’t see the one that is our own history, but we can imagine it was the one like this.

 

J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

 

So, three years ago, on this month, I received a telephone call from Stockholm saying that we’re going to receive Nobel prize, and, so, that was for the discovery of the black body form. And that’s the theoretical curve that I showed you with the little boxes on it. And I researched its anisotropy — in Greek words, it means «not the same in every direction». So, those are the small lumps and bumps that you’ve seen in the colored map.

 

J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

 

So, when I came to see the King of Sweden and receive my diploma, I received a nice cheque — and I started a foundation for promotion of science and the arts, mostly, for scholarships for young people.

 

J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

 

So, now, however, I would like to say that there are some surprises still open for astronomers. And this cartoon says that we frequently obtain a surprise that everything is not the way the astronomers have said that it is. And so, I will illustrate one of those surprises here.

 

J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

 

In 1998, here is the picture from the cover of the Science magazine, because it was discovered in that year that the universe was accelerating, going faster and faster each year. And it was discovered, especially, by these three men in the right-hand picture.

They studied distant stars called supernovae and the found out that the most distant ones they could see were 20% too faint. And the result of it is that we believe that the universe has been accelerating in the last 5 billion years — due to some force, which we call «dark energy». But, in fact, we do not know anything about this thing that we call the «dark energy» and we cannot even establish if it is really a force.

So, it’s pretty clear that this is a potential Nobel prize-winning discovery. Who knows when we may actually know what that substance, if it is a substance, actually is? But it’s one of the most important topics of current investigation in astronomy.

 

J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

 

So, astronomers have a few mysteries open, which we share with physicists.

And number one is: Why is there only ordinary matter in the universe — and there’s no antimatter anywhere in the universe, except very temporary antimatter particles? There are no anti-galaxies that we can tell.

The second question is: What is dark matter? I told you: there is dark matter, and it’s responsible for small temperature variations in the microwave radiation. And this dark matter is, apparently much more abundant than the matter we are made out of. But it does not interact with light waves. We cannot see it directly. We cannot determine whether it has any gravitational force. So, we’re very sure that it exists, but there is no particle of dark matter that we have ever seen in a laboratory.

What is the dark energy? I’ve just told you that we have dark energy, but we don’t know what it is.

Now, every student — from elementary school to a graduate school and on — always says: «Well, are you sure that Einstein was right about relativity? Are you sure that we can’t go faster than the speed of light?» And, of course, it’s still a good question.

Astronomers are busy trying to answer the questions: How did we arrive here on Earth? How is it possible that the Earth has come to exist?

And, of course, a more philosophical question is: Are we the only human beings in the universe? Are we the only intelligent creatures in the universe?

A part of that question is: How is it possible for the Earth to become a place where we can live? And another part is: Is there another place in the universe that could support life?

So, after all those inquiries, the final question is: What is going to happen in the future?

 

J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

 

...Which leads me to the next project that I’m now working on, called the James Webb Space Telescope. So, before I explain what for is that space telescope, let me explain about infrared light.

Infrared light is like ordinary light that you see with your eyes, but it has somewhat longer wavelengths. So, it comes from somewhat cooler objects. So, it’s important to us, for a number of astronomical reasons.

Number one: for a one to look at the most distant universe, the light of the first galaxies that we would like to understand started out as ultraviolet light, but when it arrives at us, it has been red-shifted by the expansion of universe; so, it arrives as the infrared light. So, to learn our history, to look back far in time, we need to use infrared telescopes.

The other thing that is important to us is that, as you see here, objects at near room temperatures, like ourselves, emit infrared radiation, and it’s quite different in character from the visible light that we would see.

So, if we want to study, as astronomers, what objects are like at a near room temperatures, we should study infrared radiation that comes from such objects.

 

J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

 

So, that leads us to the concept for this new telescope. This is called the James Webb Space Telescope, and it is planned as the next great space telescope after the Hubble Space Telescope. So, it’s been in preparations now for fourteen years, and it’s going to be launched in 2014, according to our plan.

This is a very different telescope from any other that we’ve ever seen in the outer space or on the ground, because it’s made out of segments; it unfolds after it is launched in the space; and it’s extremely cold.

So, I’m going to show you how this is done in a moment. But I just want to tell you who is going to build it:

NASA is the lead organization for this project, and it’s been lead from the Goddard Space Flight Center who are I am speaking.

We are working this as an international partnership with European and Canadian space agencies; and we have contracted with Northrop Grumman, which is a large aerospace firm located near Los Angeles Airport, to build the observatory.

There are instruments that cover the entire range of all infrared wavelengths that we want to study — and they come from [the University of] Arizona, here in the United States, from the European Space Agency and from Canada.

So, I should also say that this telescope is much larger that any telescope that we have ever had in space. The Hubble space telescope’s mirror was 2.4 m in diameter; and the one that we are flying now has the diameter of 6.5 m, so it’s much much much larger and will collect much more light from the distant universe. And it’s also arranged so it’s very cold.

I am going to show you the orbit where we’re going to put it in. But what you see in the picture here — as the larger pad that you see as blue — is actually a giant umbrella that is made of five layers of plastic. And the plastic layers protect the telescope from the heat of the Sun and the Earth.

So, the telescope will be capable of achieving a very low temperature of approximately 40° K, so it does not emit any infrared light itself.

 

J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

 

So, here is the orbit that will be used for the telescope. It orbits around a place called the Sun — Earth Lagrange point L2. L2 is about 1 million miles or 1.8 million kilometers away from Earth. And we put the telescope out there, so that the umbrella or the Sun shield can protect the telescope from the heat of the Sun and the Earth at the same time. So, this point has been known since 18th century when it was discovered by mathematicians.

 

J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

 

Now, this one illustrates a couple of places where the model of the telescope has been. We had a model built to suit the show for the world to see how big the telescope is and how powerful it may be. So, it’s been travelling around the world to spend to many cities. Here it’s show as it was in Munich, Germany, a year ago, and as it was in Washington the year before that. So, you see that it’s very large.

 

J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

 

Now, here, I hope, you will be able to see the movie showing how the telescope unfolds after it is launched. See that the telescope is much larger than the rocket and, so, it has to be unfolded after it is launched.

So, the first, the telescope’s solar power cells come out and the telemetry antenna for the radio waves. And then the plastic shield comes out. This is all done by remote controls. Motors and activators cause this to happen, while we sit here on Earth making sure that it is all working correctly.

So, the last thing for it to happen is to adjust the telescope to the right shape. And you will see in a moment that mirrors come to a form of the giant hexagon that is the primary mirror.

So, there is the telescope as it will be and used in flight — a tremendous challenge from the standpoint of engineering, but obviously the one that we must solve to make this observatory work in space.

 

J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

 

So, we had many inventions to make to show that this observatory would work. Probably, the most important one for us was what we call the «mirror phasing algorithms».

When the Hubble Space Telescope was launched, it did not work correctly: there was an error in the mirror. So, it was necessary to learn how to measure that error of the mirror and to calculate how to make a repair. So, the mathematics was developed for the Hubble Space Telescope repair. And now, because we know how to do that, we can use the same mathematics to adjust all eighteen pieces of the mirror to correct their shape and position, so they function as the single giant reflecting mirror.

 

J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

 

So, now, I just want to illustrate that we wanted to practice this adjustment with the small telescope. This is a model that can be adjusted just in the same way that the telescope in space. So, we’ve learned how to do this and demonstrated that it does work.

 

J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

 

I would like to show you, just for a moment, engineering drawings of the instruments’ packages. I can’t really explain these to you. I just wanted to say that they are coming along very well. And Europe is contributing the Near Infrared Spectrograph in the upper right side here and the Mid-Infrared Instrument on the lower right picture. So all of these are coming along beautifully, and they will be in to arrive at the Goddard Space Flight Center next year.

 

J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

 

One more thing I wanted to show you also was that we will test the telescope. This is the giant chamber, which the astronauts used when they were getting ready for their trip to the Moon. They rehearsed their operations inside this test chamber.

We are now preparing this test chamber to cool down to the very low temperature. That’s necessary, so we can test our telescope inside, as well.

 

J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

 

Now, I’d like to talk a little bit about the astronomy that the people hope to do with this observatory.

This picture was taken quite recently with the space telescope. And the startling thing that I want to point out to you is that curve on the image, in the upper right corner, which turns out to be caused by the gravitational force of the galaxies that you see in this picture. The curved pink curve there is actually the image of a much more distant galaxy that has been distorted by the gravitational field of these galaxies that you do see.

So, Nature has provided us an additional lens out there in space to mend and concentrate the light of even more distant galaxies. And if we can find these places, we can see much-much further than we could ever see without knowing about them.

So, we anticipate that the James Webb Telescope will do the same, but even better.

 

J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

 

So, the next picture here shows that we have found a number of galaxies that appear to be held together by dark matter. These are galaxies photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope. They are very nearby, and they are very small.

But we calculate how massive they must be — and we calculate that their mass could exist only in the form of dark matter. That’s necessary to hold those small galaxies together.

So, it’s clearly one of the greatest intellectual challenges of our age: to find out what is the dark matter and the dark energy that fill our universe and cannot be seen in our laboratories.

 

J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

 

Now, the Hubble telescope has given us these beautiful pictures of galaxies interacting with each other. These galaxies — they are relatively close to us and are in relatively recent times. We think that our own Milky Way Galaxy may have done this as well and may have collided with other neighboring galaxies in its history. And, of course, as I’ve told you, we think that will happen to us in about five billion years when the Andromeda Nebula comes to at us and collides with us. So, it will be a spectacular event.

 

J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

 

Now, I think, you may even be able to see here a computer-generated movie of a collision of two galaxies. I hope this is working for you. For just a moment, a computer-generated movie looks like the picture in the upper center chart here. And then you see what will happen to the galaxies as they have completed their collision. So, this is a possibility for our own Galaxy, as it collides with the Andromeda Nebula.

 

J. Mather From the Big Bang to the James Webb Space Telescope and new Nobel prizes

 

And we would love to know how stars and planets formed. Astronomers have been drawing pictures like this one for many-many years, but it’s still pretty much a theoretical prediction.

01 декабрь 2019 /
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