James Schombert: Space Telescopes — Astronomy's Golden Age

The last 20 years have been a golden age for astronomy as advances in space technology has allowed us to study the Universe at wavelengths impossible to observe from the surface of the Earth.

Space telescopes allow us to see the most violent phenomenon in the Universe (supernovae, black holes, colliding galaxies) and the most exotic phenomenon (expanding Universe, cosmic background radiation, protostars).

The changes to our scientific thinking in the last 20 years has outpaced our ideas for the last 500 years.

This talk will be a non-technical review of the history of space telescopes from the 1960's to today, our discoveries, our plans for the future and the probable decline of American science in the 21st century.

Prof. Schombert is an observational astronomer whose research centers around galaxy evolution and formation, as well as topics in cosmology. His recent efforts have involved the discovery, imaging and spectroscopy of low surface brightness galaxies, tracing color evolution of ellipticals and the structure of galaxies.

After receiving his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1984, Schombert was a postdoctoral fellow at Caltech and a visiting assistant professor at UMichigan. Before arriving at UOregon in 1996, he was a staff scientist at NASA/Caltech for 6 years, the last two working for the Astrophysics Division of NASA HQ, Washington, D.C.