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Connecticut scientists hope to benefit from the James Webb Space Telescope

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NASA/ESA
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CSA/STScI
NASA’s new James Webb Space Telescope reveals for the first time previously invisible areas of star birth in the Carina Nebula.

Scientists at Yale University and the University of Connecticut will soon be poring over data from the new, powerful James Webb Space Telescope.

“I’m actually just blown away. It’s more spectacular than I could have imagined,” Jonathan Trump, UConn associate professor of physics, said in describing the images and information released so far.

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Mark Mirko
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Connecticut Public
Imagery from the James Webb Space Telescope is displayed on the computer of UConn physics associate professor Jonathan Trump while he talks remotely from his office with colleagues around the world. Trump said the information is providing images from a time when the universe was less than a billion years old, “This is the beginning of the universe,” he said. “This is why we're so excited.”

Trump hopes to use data from the space telescope to solve a chicken-or-egg question involving galaxies and the black holes at their centers.

“Does the galaxy form first, and then the black hole slowly form at its center? Or do we start with black hole seeds, or black hole eggs, and then galaxies form around them? How do galaxies and their black holes form and grow over almost 14 billion years of cosmic time?” Trump asked.

He is part of a group of scientists receiving data Thursday, July 14, from observations the telescope has already made.

On Friday, Trump will fly to the Space Telescope Science Institute to meet with fellow researchers to discuss the information gathered.

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Mark Mirko
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Connecticut Public
UConn physics associate professor Jonathan Trump talks remotely with colleagues around the world about information they just received from the Webb telescope.

Yale,Astronomy Department Chair Priyamvada Natarajan was traveling Wednesday but said in an email that she has made many predictions that can be tested or validated by data from the James Webb Space Telescope.

Natarajan said she has a lot riding on the data.

Matt Dwyer is a producer for Where We Live and a reporter and midday host for Connecticut Public's news department.