First light: Switching on stars at the dawn of time

7.00pm to 8.30pm, Tuesday 1 December

The Royal Institution of Great Britain GB United Kingdom W1S 4BS 21 Albemarle Street London

This event has already taken place

  • Astronomers hope to use observations to answer the question of how the Universe was reionised.

    Credit: ESA/Hubble


Suggested donation £10

Event description

What happened in the first billion years of the Universe? Emma Chapman will tell us what happened after the Big Bang, when the very first stars burst into life, why those stars were so unusual, and what they can teach us about the Universe today.



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About the speaker

Emma Chapman is currently based at Imperial College London, where she is a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellow. Emma has spent her research career in London so far, completing her PhD and first postdoctoral position at UCL before heading off to Imperial College for a Royal Astronomical Society fellowship. Her research is in the Epoch of Reionisation, a rather off-putting name for a very exciting time in our Universe – when the lights first switched on! As those first stars formed and starting flinging out high energy radiation, they formed bubbles of ionised hydrogen around them. We can observe this hydrogen today with radio telescopes and the race is on to make the first detection of the Epoch of Reionisation. Emma works mainly with the European telescope LOFAR based in the Netherlands.

Emma is passionate about trying to make astronomy and universities in general pleasant, safe places for everyone who works and studies there. Emma speaks regularly on the topic of harassment and bullying in physics in the media and a member of The 1752 Group, a research organisation coming to end staff-to-student sexual misconduct.


The live stream will go live at 6.55pm, and the introduction will begin at 7.00pm. If you miss the live stream, it will be available to watch on WebinarJam for the following 72 hours.

How to watch live

1. Register for the livestream by clicking the ‘Register now’ button above.

2. Enter your first name and email address and click ‘Register now’.

3. The registration completion page will give you your link to the live stream 'room'.  Simply click the link and bookmark the page so that you can return to it later

You should also receive a confirmation email containing your link. If not, check your spam filter and mark the email as safe so that you will receive further emails from us about this event.

Your link gives you access the WebinarJam live stream room. If the live stream hasn’t started yet, this will be a ‘waiting room’. When the live stream begins, you can submit your comments and questions via the chat forum. Keep an eye on the chat forum for further links, e.g. if you'd like to buy the speaker’s book

Don’t worry if you miss the live stream. You will receive an email with a link to access a replay video, which will be available for 24 hours after the live stream. Check your spam filter if you don't receive this email. The video will also be uploaded onto our YouTube channel.

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