â€œWe have trained an initial group of about 30 other people around the world to do preparatory observations for the James Webb Space Telescope. All the science we’ve done over the past 20 years has prepared for this moment, â€Packham said. â€œWe now have around 55 people in several countries with a great skill set as a team. That’s why we are distributed worldwide, from Japan to Alaska, and everywhere in between. We are well positioned to use every second of the telescope. “
The team that Packham co-leads is called the Galactic Activity Torus and Outflow Survey, or GATOS. They will use Webb to increase their understanding of the interplay between active galactic nuclei – small regions in the center of a galaxy that emit enormous amounts of energy in the form of radio, optical, X-ray or gamma radiation, or high-speed particle jets – fueled by supermassive black holes. The light-collecting power of the Webb Telescope will help GATOS study these black holes to better understand how galaxies interact with these incredible objects at their center.
â€œWe now believe that there is a strong connection between the so-called host galaxy and the supermassive black hole at the center. Supermassive black holes were thought to accumulate, attracting only everything, but in reality they also expel matter. Said Packham. â€œThis expulsion of matter could have a very significant impact on the formation and evolution of galaxies. Our team will study how these supermassive black holes could be intimately linked to the entire galaxy. This process could have a significant effect on the evolution of galaxies, so incredibly to fully understand the solar system and therefore our own place in the universe, it might be necessary to analyze black holes.
GATOS is one of a number of teams that have been granted access to the Webb telescope for research. The team got 53 hours on the telescope to collect their data. Once their information is transmitted to Earth, NASA will send the team an email stating that their data is ready to be downloaded. UTSA will store the data on a high capacity, cloud-based OneDrive account.
The Arcticus supercomputer, located in UTSA’s advanced visualization lab, will be used by the team to process the data.
â€œWe will host the data here for the international collaborative team. They will be able to connect to our OneDrive and retrieve data from Spain, Japan or Alaska, wherever they are. Packham added. â€œMy graduate and professional scientific students also benefit from our work on Webb. They will have access to GATOS data for their research projects.