Deep Fields: Chandra and Hubble Uncover the Growth of Early Galaxies

August 2019

Briefing date: August 8, 2019 (3:30pm EDT)


Dr. Chris Britt (STScI)


  • Dr. Garth Illingworth (UC Santa Cruz)

  • Dr. Belinda Wilkes (Chandra X-ray Center Director, Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian)

  • Dr. Rutuparna Das (Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian)

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In this briefing, speakers will share content about what our most powerful telescopes can see in the most distant reaches of space. Dr. Garth Illingworth will show how Hubble’s deep images have allowed us to find young galaxies almost back to the time of the first galaxies; with the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), we will take the next step into the very origins of the first galaxies, 13.4 billion years ago. Dr. Belinda Wilkes will describe how Chandra's uniquely high spatial resolution provides very deep images of the X-ray sky, finding many, faint and distant super-massive black holes in active galaxies. Chandra observations also probe the nuclear structure active galaxies, and their interaction with their environment. Dr. Rutuparna Das will present educational resources relating to the deep fields, the twining of black holes and galaxy growth, and Chandra X-ray Observatory’s 20th anniversary.


Dr. Garth Illingworth is now a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He was a Miller Fellow at UC Berkeley, the Deputy Director of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), and in 2010 was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree at the University of Western Australia. He is the recipient of the 2016 American Astronomical Society Lancelot M. Berkeley New York Community Trust Prize for his work on the most-distant galaxies viewed with Hubble, and was a plenary speaker for this award at the 2017 meeting of the American Astronomical Society. He was the 2018 Bahcall Lecturer, giving a series of invited talks at the Space Telescope Science Institute, the Goddard Space Flight Center and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. He was Deputy-PI of one of Hubble’s major cameras, the Advanced Camera (ACS). He has been deeply involved in the development of JWST over the last decade, as well as playing a leading role in formulating the initial concept 30 years ago, in the late 1980s.

Dr. Belinda Wilkes is the Director of NASA's Chandra X-ray Center and a Senior Astrophysicist at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian (CfA). She is an Honorary Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge, UK. She was born in England, obtained a BSc in Astronomy and Physics from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and a PhD in Astrophysics from the University of Cambridge, UK. She then moved to the USA, spending 2 years as a NATO postdoctoral fellow at the Steward Observatory, University of Arizona. She then moved to the High Energy Astrophysics Division at the CfA where she was been deeply involved in science operations for X-ray Observatories: Einstein and ROSAT, before transitioning to Chandra a few years before launch. Her research involves multi-wavelength studies of active galaxies and quasars powered by a super-massive black hole in their core.

FACILITATOR: Dr. Chris Britt received his BS and PhD in astrophysics from Louisiana State University. He was a postdoctoral researcher at Texas Tech University and at Michigan State University before joining the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore as an Education and Outreach Scientist, where he works with the Hubble and James Webb Space Telescopes to bring cutting edge astronomical research to public audiences.