Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Nobel laureate and NASA astrophysicist John C. Mather to speak at UTSA in April

Nobel laureate and NASA astrophysicist John C. Mather to speak at UTSA in April

MARCH 18, 2024 — In anticipation of the total solar eclipse on Monday, April 8, UTSA will host Nobel laureate John C. Mather for a public talk at 7:30 p.m. this week on Thursday.

Mather is a senior astrophysicist at NASA and was the senior project scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) at the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), where he led the JWST science teams from 1995 to 2003. In 2006, he and colleague/fellow astrophysicist George Smoot received the Nobel Prize in Physics.

“The James Webb Space Telescope and its new window on the universe are some of humanity’s greatest achievements, and I’d like to share them with the students and the public,” said Mather.


“Dr. Mather has made substantial contributions to our understanding of the universe in which we live, and we are honored to host him at UTSA.”



Mather’s visit to UTSA is representative of the university's growing reputation as a hub for physical sciences and astronomy and reaffirms UTSA's space-related expertise, research programs and community engagement.

Mather’s talk, “Opening the Infrared Treasure Chest with JWST,” will focus on the James Webb Space Telescope, including its launch and development, and its use in explaining the origin stories of distant galaxies.

Space science leaders around the world use the JWST to produce images of galaxies, active galactic nuclei, star-forming regions and planets. Mather will explain why astronomers study infrared wavelengths, and he will share the latest scientific space discoveries.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place at the Main Building Auditorium (MB 0.104) on the UTSA Main Campus.

Mather hopes his audience will gain an understanding of where they came from, how the expanding universe produced planets like Earth, and what’s next for astronomy.

As a postdoctoral fellow at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Mather led the proposal efforts for the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) satellite. With the COBE team, he confirmed the expanding universe model to extraordinary accuracy and helped cement the big bang theory of the universe. The COBE team made the first map of the hot and cold spots in the background radiation, the spots which nucleated the formation of galaxies.

Mather and Smoot earned the Nobel Prize in 2006 for their work using the COBE satellite to provide evidence of the big bang theory.

Mather received his bachelor’s degree in physics from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania and his doctorate in physics from the University of California, Berkeley.

The upcoming total solar eclipse, the chance to share this phenomenon with the public and the opportunity to reconnect with old friends was an opportunity that Mather could not pass up.  

“I have friends and colleagues at UTSA, and I’ve been hoping to come back to visit,” said Mather. “And of course, there’s an eclipse, one of the most glorious and mysterious sights we will ever witness.”


EXPLORE FURTHER
⇒ Learn more about the upcoming Total Solar Eclipse Campus Viewing Party.

“Dr. Mather has made substantial contributions to our understanding of the universe in which we live, and we are honored to host him at UTSA,” said Eric Schlegel, the Vaughan Family Professor in Physics at UTSA. “These events are a wonderful opportunity for students interested in pursuing careers in physics, astronomy or engineering to hear from someone who is recognized as a Nobel laureate for his groundbreaking scientific achievements.”

Ryan Schoensee



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of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

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UTSA Today is produced by University Communications and Marketing, the official news source of The University of Texas at San Antonio. Send your feedback to news@utsa.edu. Keep up-to-date on UTSA news by visiting UTSA Today. Connect with UTSA online at Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram.


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