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From the College of Natural Sciences
Giant Magellan Telescope Awards Final Enclosure Design Contract

Giant Magellan Telescope Awards Final Enclosure Design Contract

Renowned engineering and architecture firm, IDOM, faces rigorous design requirements of the Giant Magellan Telescope’s enclosure to allow for unobstructed observations of the night sky. Credit: Giant Magellan Telescope – GMTO Corporation.

The partners of the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) today announced they have awarded IDOM, a renowned engineering and architecture firm based in Spain, a contract to complete the telescope enclosure design by 2024. The award follows an extensive enclosure designer evaluation and selection process based on a detailed set of criteria involving design team experience, proposed approaches to specific design challenges, incorporation of safety management in the design process, and more. The University of Texas at Austin is a founding partner of the GMT.

Bill Wren, Tireless Promoter of Dark Skies, Retires from McDonald Observatory

Bill Wren, Tireless Promoter of Dark Skies, Retires from McDonald Observatory

After more than three decades of sharing astronomy with the public and working to protect dark skies from light pollution, Bill Wren has retired from McDonald Observatory.

Probing the Secrets of Dead Stars and Planetary Remnants

Probing the Secrets of Dead Stars and Planetary Remnants

The dark silhouette of the 2.1-meter Otto Struve Telescope is backed by a colorful sunrise. Credit: Ethan Tweedie Photography

In the course of research for his Ph.D., Zach Vanderbosch spent nearly 300 nights studying the heavens from telescopes at The University of Texas at Austin's McDonald Observatory. Later this month, he will receive his doctorate for his research into the dead stars known as white dwarfs, and the orbiting disks of debris made up of these stars' former planets.

Astronomers Discover Strangely Massive Black Hole in Milky Way Satellite Galaxy

Astronomers Discover Strangely Massive Black Hole in Milky Way Satellite Galaxy

McDonald Observatory astronomers have found that Leo I (inset), a tiny satellite galaxy of the Milky Way (main image), has a black hole nearly as massive as the Milky Way's. Leo I is 30 times smaller than the Milky Way. The result could signal changes in astronomers' understanding of galaxy evolution. Credit: ESA/Gaia/DPAC; SDSS (inset)

Astronomers at The University of Texas at Austin's McDonald Observatory have discovered an unusually massive black hole at the heart of one of the Milky Way's dwarf satellite galaxies, called Leo I. Almost as massive as the black hole in our own galaxy, the finding could redefine our understanding of how all galaxies — the building blocks of the universe — evolve. The work is published in a recent issue of The Astrophysical Journal.

National Academy Ranks Giant Magellan Telescope Among Top Astronomy Priorities

National Academy Ranks Giant Magellan Telescope Among Top Astronomy Priorities

A new report out from the National Academy of Sciences, the highly anticipated decadal survey called Pathways to Discovery in Astronomy and Astrophysics for the 2020s, or "Astro2020," has presented recommendations for making federal investments critical to achieving advances in US astronomy over the next decade.

Weizmann Institute of Science Joins Giant Magellan Telescope Project

Weizmann Institute of Science Joins Giant Magellan Telescope Project

Giant Magellan Telescope primary mirror segment with people in silhouette. Credit: Damien Jemison, Giant Magellan Telescope - GMTO Corporation.

The University of Texas at Austin and other co-founders of the Giant Magellan Telescope project welcomed the Weizmann Institute of Science into their international consortium on September 14.

David Doss to Retire from McDonald Observatory after 50 Years’ Service

David Doss to Retire from McDonald Observatory after 50 Years’ Service

David Doss is retiring from McDonald Observatory after half a century of making scientific research happen. As Assistant Manager for Observing Support, he has been there to make sure the telescopes and instruments are in tip-top shape and working as they should, so that astronomers can use them to study the universe. "David's commitmen...
Astronomers Disprove Planet Orbiting Nearby Barnard’s Star

Astronomers Disprove Planet Orbiting Nearby Barnard’s Star

Astronomers are announcing today that they have disproved a 2018-announced planet orbiting Barnard's Star, the second-closest star to our Sun. The findings, based on observations with the Habitable Zone Planet Finder (HPF) instrument on the 10-meter Hobby-Eberly Telescope at The University of Texas at Austin's McDonald Observatory, have been accepted for publication in The Astronomical Journal.

You Can Help Decode the Universe!

You Can Help Decode the Universe!

Would you like to help astronomers understand more about the universe? McDonald Observatory astronomers are trying to learn more about dark energy — the mysterious force causing the universe to expand faster and faster over time. And now there is a fun and easy way anyone can help with their research, using a smartphone or computer.

Exoplanet is Gobbling Up Gas and Dust as it Continues to Build Mass

Exoplanet is Gobbling Up Gas and Dust as it Continues to Build Mass

This illustration of the newly forming exoplanet PDS 70b shows how material may be falling onto the giant world as it builds up mass. Researchers got a unique look at radiation from extremely hot gas falling onto the planet with Hubble Space Telescope, allowing them to directly measure the planet’s mass growth rate for the first time. Credit: Y. Zhou/UT Austin/NASA, ESA, STScI and J. Olmsted
The Hubble Space Telescope has allowed astronomers from The University of Texas at Austin to get a rare look at a young, Jupiter-sized planet that is growing by feeding off material surrounding a young star 370 light-years from Earth.