January 2019 - Exploring the End of the Dark Ages

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Dr Stephen Wilkins from Sussex University will be giving this month's talk.

As we look out in to the Universe we also look back in time. Eventually we reach a period of the Universe's history before stars (and galaxies) had formed; these are the Dark Ages. The Dark Ages were brought to an end by the formation of the first stars and super-massive black holes some few hundred million years after the big bang. The identification of these first objects is one of the goals of modern extragalactic astronomy.

While tremendous progress has been made with Hubble, its small mirror and lack of infrared capability limits its ability to probe this critical period of the Universe's history. However, in the next decade a number of new facilities will be coming online that will shine a light on this critical period in the Universe's history. These include: the Webb Telescope, the successor to both the Hubble and Spitzer space observatories due to be launched in 2021; the new generation of "extremely large" ground based telescopes; and the Square Kilometre Array, the next generation radio telescope currently under construction in Australia and South Africa.

Arrive from 7pm for a 7:30pm start.