In Brinson Lecture, astrophysicist to shed light on the early universe

Prof. Richard Ellis to deliver 10th annual address on May 17

The first billion years after the Big Bang were formative for the universe. But because there was so little light as the earliest stars began to shine, astronomers know very little about this epoch.

On May 17, astrophysicist Richard Ellis will deliver the 10th annual University of Chicago Brinson Lecture, entitled “Let There Be Light: The Observational Quest for the First Galaxies.” His talk will cover what scientists understand about this period and how new telescopes could fill in many of the gaps in their knowledge.

“The motivation is fundamental,” Ellis wrote in the description of the lecture. “The origin of starlight begins the process of chemical evolution, which ultimately leads to our own existence in this remarkable universe.”

The Brinson Lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be held at 6 p.m. May 17 at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Previous events have covered topics from the search for inhabited planets in other galaxies to underground ice telescopes, and have included decorated scientists from Prof. Wendy Freedman to newly minted Nobel laureate Kip Thorne.

Ellis is a professor of astrophysics at the University College London. The 2011 winner of the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society, Ellis works primarily in observational cosmology, considering the origin and evolution of galaxies, the evolution of large-scale structures in the universe and the nature and distribution of dark matter. His most recent discoveries relate to searches for the earliest known galaxies, seen when the universe was only a few percent of its present age.

The lecture is co-sponsored by the University of Chicago and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, with generous support from the Brinson Foundation.