Skip to main content Skip to search

YU News

YU News

Panel Explores the Secrets Revealed in NASA's James Webb Telescope Images

Headshots of Selma Botman, Edward Belbruno, Marian Gidea, Michael Strauss and James Green against a space background

Is there life beyond our galaxy? What are the effects of dark matter and dark energy? Could our universe have come about through a previous universe? In a YU-hosted panel, "Unlocking the Mysteries of Space," experts discussed the revelations and ramifications of recent images captured by NASA's James Webb Space Telescope — the largest space observatory ever built.

Drawing over 100 viewers from across YU undergraduate and graduate schools, as well as the larger YU community, the August 25 event was moderated by Dr. Edward Belbruno, clinical professor of mathematics at Yeshiva University. With opening remarks by Dr. Selma Botman, YU provost and vice president of academic affairs, distinguished panelists included Dr. Marian Gidea, professor and chair of the YU mathematics department, Dr. Michael Strauss, professor and chair of the department of astrophysical sciences at Princeton University, and Dr. James Green, the former chief scientist at NASA.

"The panel was an exciting and timely event that explained the importance of the James Webb telescope, its first results and how it may revolutionize our view of the universe," Dr. Belbruno said. "It was an insightful and lively discussion that surely kept many people up at night for many days after, wondering about our universe."

The panel was divided into four presentations. Dr. James Green began with "Life in the Universe," which explained how the Webb Telescope can aid in the search for life on other exoplanets beyond our solar system. This was followed by Dr. Strauss' "Early Universe and Galaxy Formation," which analyzed the telescope's first images and how the early galaxies may fit within the theory of the Big Bang expansion of the universe.

Dr. Strauss and Dr. Belbruno then co-hosted "Big Bang and Dark Matter." Dr. Strauss focused on images and properties of the early universe, while Dr. Belbruno discussed dark matter within the Milky Way galaxy and the Big Bang itself. Finally, Dr. Gidea and Dr. Belbruno spoke on "How Mathematics Can Offer Clues." Dr. Gidea laid out interesting exoplanets and their orbits around other stars, citing work by Dr. Belbruno and Dr. Green on dark matter. Dr. Belbruno closed the topic by looking at how mathematical techniques can be used to study the Big Bang and how our universe could have come about from a previous universe.

Following the final presentation, Dr. Gidea moderated an audience Q&A, and Dr. Botman concluded with closing remarks.

"I was captivated by the discussion of the James Webb telescope and the discoveries that will be made about the solar system, our galaxy, and the mysteries of the universe beyond," she said. "The panelists shared joy and sophistication, offering us a window into the knowledge that will be gained from space exploration. This was Yeshiva University at its best, presenting cutting-edge wisdom to our students, faculty, staff and community."

Below you can watch either the full video or highlights from the presentation.