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Astronomers can’t wait to search for signs of life and massive black-hole mergers

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST or Webb) might get all the credit, but a whole new era of telescopes — in space and on the ground — is set to revolutionize astronomy in the next two decades. 

From black holes to the search for life and beyond, all of astronomy’s greatest mysteries are on the table — and astronomers are already planning how to solve them, using tools that range from the biggest space telescopes to arrays of tiny radio telescopes scattered across a desert on Earth. Even if some ideas feel far-fetched, astronomers are hard at work brainstorming how best to bring these projects to fruition, and how they will complement today’s cutting-edge instruments, as scientists explained at the 241st meeting of the American Astronomical Society held in Seattle and online earlier this month. 

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