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From the College of Natural Sciences
Giant Magellan Telescope: A New Window on the Universe

Giant Magellan Telescope: A New Window on the Universe

The Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) will be larger than any telescope in existence today. When completed it will take advantage of seven large light-gathering mirrors at a prime observing site to see the distant reaches of the universe. It will also produce images up to 10 times sharper than the Hubble Space Telescope. Ten institutions, including The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M, are partnering to raise the funds necessary to build the GMT — in what will likely be a paradigm shift in what we know about the universe.

Texas Astronomers Find Super-luminous Supernova

Astronomers have found another extremely bright, rare supernova to add to the new class of exploding stars that were identified a few years ago.

Grahams Boost Dark Energy Studies

Gift from Bob and Annie Graham will help astronomers solve the mystery of dark energy.

Buckyballs, Largest Known Molecules, More Common in Space Than Thought

Observations made with NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope have provided surprises concerning the presence of buckminsterfullerenes, or "buckyballs," the largest known molecules in space.

First Stars in the Universe Weren't Lonely

The first stars to form in the universe were not as lonely as previously thought, finds Volker Bromm.

Texas Astronomers "Weigh" Heaviest Known Black Hole in our Cosmic Neighborhood

Astronomers led by Karl Gebhardt have measured the most massive known black hole in our cosmic neighborhood by combining data from a giant telescope in Hawai'i and a smaller telescope at the McDonald Observatory.
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Texas Astronomer Wins Japanese Physics Prize

Astronomer Eiichiro Komatsu of The University of Texas at Austin has been awarded the 25th annual Nishinomiya-Yukawa Memorial Prize for physics.
Project to Study 'Dark Energy' Receives $8 Million From National Science Foundation

Project to Study 'Dark Energy' Receives $8 Million From National Science Foundation

A project to discover the nature of dark energy, a mysterious force causing the expansion of the universe to speed up, has received an $8 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). AUSTIN, Texas — A project to discover the nature of dark energy, a mysterious force causing the expansion of the universe to speed up, has received an $8...
Quasar Girl

Quasar Girl

Astronomy student Krista Smith fulfills her dream to become an astronomer and studies quasars, the massive, incredibly distant, extraordinarily bright galaxies with active black holes at their center.

'Out of Whack' Planetary System Offers Clues to Disturbing Past

'Out of Whack' Planetary System Offers Clues to Disturbing Past

The discovery of a planetary system “out of whack,” where the orbits of two planets are at a steep angle to each other, was reported today (May 24) by a team of astronomers led by Barbara McArthur of the McDonald Observatory.

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Galaxy & Star Formation

In these two short videos, astronomer Volker Bromm describes simulations he created of galaxy and star formation in the early universe. These kinds of simulations require months of data crunching at the University of Texas at Austin’s Texas Advanced Computing Center, and they help NASA scientists as they prepare new telescopes – like the James Webb...
Texas Astronomers Aid Kepler Mission's Discovery of New Planets

Texas Astronomers Aid Kepler Mission's Discovery of New Planets

Kepler mission astronomers, including co-investigator Bill Cochran of The University of Texas at Austin, announced today the spaceborne telescope has found five new gas giant planets orbiting close to Sun-like stars.

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Astronomers Find Most Massive Black Hole

Researchers have discovered that the black hole at the heart of M87, one the largest nearby giant galaxies, is two to three times more massive than previously thought.

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Q&A with astronomer Anita Cochran, assistant director of the McDonald Observatory

Anita Cochran, assistant director of the McDonald Observatory As part of your research into the nature of comets, you’ve looked at the question of whether comets are responsible for the water in the Earth’s oceans. Why have astronomers thought this? We know comets hit the Earth. They’re about 40 percent frozen water, so it made sense to suppose t...Anita Cochran, assistant director of the McDonald Observatory

When Stars Explode

An image, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, of Supernova 1987a, spectropolarimetric data from which was essential to overturning the consensus about the shape of supernovae explosions.When astronomer J. Craig Wheeler first began observing supernovae, there was so little observational data available that scientists were forced to assume a great d...An image, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, of Supernova 1987a, spectropolarimetric data from which was essential to overturning the consensus about the shape of supernovae explosions.