13 October 2010

Peter Jakobsen is the first professor of Space Science

Peter Jakobsen, PhD in astrophysics, is Denmark’s first professor of Space Science, at the Niels Bohr Institute. Peter Jakobsen’s main area of expertise is exploring the Universe using telescopes in space.

Peter Jakobsen is Project Scientist for ESA’s NIRSpec spectrograph, which is part of the James Webb Space Telescope, which is the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. The James Webb Space telescope’s mirror will have a diameter of 6½ meters (the Hubble telescope’s mirror is 2½ meters), and it will make it possible to observe light from the very distant Universe. What is very special about the NIRSpec (Near Infrared Spectrograph) spectrograph is that it is very sensitive to infrared light, which is precisely the wavelength with which you can observe objects in the distant Universe. 

"The telescope will be a quantum leap in our ability to observe the distant universe and the appointment of Peter Jakobsen will have a big impact on the scientific research", explains Kristian Pedersen, leader of Space Science Center at University of Copenhagen.

Peter Jakobsen studies the matter found in the space between galaxies. Here there is hydrogen and helium, which is almost like a cosmic network. It dates back to the Big Bang, and Peter Jakobsen is focusing on the period early in the history of the Universe when the first galaxies were formed. 

"The intergalactic material can be traced using the absorption which it leaves in the spectra of distant galaxies and quasars. NIRSpec is designed to measure the spectra of the most distant galaxies which we are currently only able to see very faintly in images taken with Hubble. With the James Webb Space Telescope, I believe that we will get answers to many of the questions about what happened in the very early Universe ", says Peter Jakobsen, who is looking forward to working scientifically with the spectrograph, which he has been leading the development of.

The James Webb Space Telescope will be launched into space into an Earth orbit in 2014. Until then, Peter Jakobsen will continue as Project Scientist for the development of the NIRspec spectrograph based at ESA in the Netherlands.

At the same time he is now adjunct professor at Dark Cosmology Centre, Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen. This gives him even better opportunities to do his research and places University of Copenhagen in the front row, when James Webb Telescope will Then he will explore the early Universe.

James Webb Telescope >>

Article about Peter Jakobsen's research >>