It took the combined efforts of NASA and European and Canadian space agencies to make this possible. Astronomers around the world have used Hubble and ground-based telescopes to prepare for this momentous occasion.
The group that I co-lead at the University of Texas at San Antonio includes about 55 astronomers from Japan to Alaska and many places in between. Earlier this year, we got 53 hours on the JWST to scan the centers of super massive galaxies and black holes.
We know that black holes can be submerged if they attract too much material. When matter falls into a black hole, it creates pressure from the immense amount of energy released, and it can send gas and dust back to the galaxy. The precise nature of how this happens and the impact on the galaxy, however, remains poorly understood. This process could have a significant effect on the evolution of galaxies, so incredibly to fully understand the solar system, and therefore our own place in the universe, it might be necessary to analyze black holes.
Using UTSA’s enhanced high-performance computing, our research team will organize the JWST data and perform the initial data analysis. We will publish our results and present at international conferences what will certainly be major advances in knowledge.
UTSA students will participate in this unique endeavor. This is especially important at UTSA, an institution serving Hispanics that strives to increase the representation of minorities and people of color in science. While we expect many answers from the data collected by the JWST, we also expect new questions to arise. This research cycle will create learning opportunities for students and early career scientists.