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After 20 years in the planning and construction, NASA’s new James Webb Space Telescope is scheduled for launch in October 2021. We have guaranteed time with this telescope to observe a number of extremely deep fields, and expect data to arrive at ICRAR around April 2022. We plan to analyse these data using our in-house codes, to find the very first galaxies that formed in the first billion years after the Big Bang (i.e., redshifts 5 to 12), and to study their properties including their sizes, shapes, spectral energy distributions, stellar masses, star-formation rates, and clustering properties.

 

In the second phase we will combine these data with our existing galaxy catalogues from the very nearby and intermediate depth Universe, to build a complete fossil record of the galaxy population from the very earliest systems to the present day. Finally, with the fossil record in place, we can then compare our measurements to the predictions of numerical simulations generated by our simulations’ team at ICRAR to understand has mass and grown and been transformed over the entire timeline of the Universe.

 

A PhD student is sought who is interested in learning the skills needed to work with space telescope data, which includes an empirical understanding of faint object detection and measurement, observational cosmology, the interface with numerical simulations, and robust statistical analysis and data visualisation. The position will prepare the student for a career in observational astronomy or the commercial Big Data sector.