“The James Webb; Window on the Universe”


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Presented on ZOOM 10th January at 7pm

DVDs available



The Webb Space Telescope is a groundbreaking infrared observatory resulting from an international collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency. It was successfully launched on Christmas Day 2021 from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou in French Guiana and is currently on its way to its destination some 1.5 million km from Earth. Webb was designed to address some of the biggest questions in astronomy and astrophysics.

It will identify the first stars in the Universe, observe the first galaxies formed, reveal the inside dust clouds where stars and planetary systems are forming today, and probe the composition of exoplanets atmospheres. Webb will be the premier observatory of the next decade and will provide thousands of astronomers worldwide with pioneering observations, facilitating discoveries in many fields of astronomy and astrophysics.  In this talk I will give an overview of Webb, its launch and deployment, as well as outlining the Irish contribution to the project.



Dr. Patrick Kavanagh
Webb MIRI Calibration/Software Scientist

I work on the development of calibration and software tools for the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) on Webb. MIRI is an international project comprising a consortium of European partners, including the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, the European Space Agency, and partners in the US. I work on many aspects of MIRI including the calibration of the MIRI Medium Resolution Spectrometer, development of the MIRI simulator, and MIRI commissioning activities. During the Webb commissioning period I will work at the Webb Mission Operations Center in Baltimore, USA, to monitor the health of the instrument, review observation plans, and to analyse observational data. I am also part of the supernova SN1987A guaranteed time observation team which will investigate crucial astrophysical questions on supernova physics and dust formation in the Universe.

He moved to Dublin City University where he was awarded his PhD for his research on the study of X-rays from the youngest Galactic massive star clusters in 2011. He then obtained a post-doctoral position at the University of Tuebingen, Germany, where he focused on high-energy studies of supernova remnants, superbubbles and the hot interstellar medium. At the beginning of 2016 he moved to the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies where he continues his research and works as a software developer for the Mid-Infrared Instrument on the James Webb Space Telescope. He also contributes as an external collaborator to the German/Russian eROSITA mission and is a member of the Supernova Remnants and Interstellar Medium’ science working group for the European Space Agency’s Athena mission.




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