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McDonald Observatory’s 80th Anniversary Kicks Off at State Capitol

McDonald Observatory’s 80th Anniversary Kicks Off at State Capitol

McDonald Observatory was honored by the Texas State Legislature for its 80th anniversary. This photo shows the 2.1-meter Struve Telescope (left) and the 2.7-meter Smith Telescope (right) atop Mt. Locke. The Hobby-Eberly Telescope can been seen atop Mt. Fowlkes in the distance between them. Photo credit: Damond Benningfield

AUSTIN, Texas — The University of Texas at Austin's McDonald Observatory is celebrating its 80th anniversary, and it started today with an event at the Capitol. Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 60, authored by Texas state Sen. José Rodríguez to honor the anniversary, passed this morning on the Senate floor. Texas state Rep. Poncho Nevárez will sponsor the resolution in the House. Located near the West Texas town of Fort Davis, McDonald Observatory falls into the districts of both lawmakers.

Undergraduate-Led Team Discovers Two New Planets Using Artificial Intelligence

Undergraduate-Led Team Discovers Two New Planets Using Artificial Intelligence

Undergraduate astronomy student Anne Dattilo and colleagues used artificial intelligence to discover two exoplanets in data collected by the Kepler space telescope.

Astronomers at The University of Texas at Austin, in partnership with Google, have used artificial intelligence (AI) to uncover two more hidden planets in the Kepler space telescope archive. The technique shows promise for identifying many additional planets that traditional methods could not catch.

Habitable Zone Planet Finder Enables Discovery of Planets Around Cool Stars

Habitable Zone Planet Finder Enables Discovery of Planets Around Cool Stars

The dome of the Hobby-Eberly Telescope, which now houses a new instrument for finding planets around cool stars: the Habitable Zone Planet Finder. Photo credit: Ethan Tweedie Photography.

A new astronomical spectrograph provides the highest precision measurements to date of infrared signals from nearby stars, allowing astronomers to detect planets capable of having liquid water on their surfaces that orbit cool stars outside our solar system. The Habitable Zone Planet Finder (HPF) allows precise measurement of a star's radial velocity, measured by the subtle change in the color of the star's spectra as it is tugged by an orbiting planet, which is critical information in the discovery and confirmation of new planets.

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Thousands of Stars Observed Turning into Crystals for the First Time

Thousands of Stars Observed Turning into Crystals for the First Time

White dwarf star in the process of solidifying. Credit: University of Warwick/Mark Garlick.

The first direct evidence of crystallized white dwarf stars has been discovered by an international team of researchers that includes an astronomer at The University of Texas at Austin. Predicted half a century ago, the direct evidence of these stars will be published tomorrow in the journal Nature.

J. Craig Wheeler Shares Chambliss Astronomical Writing Award

J. Craig Wheeler Shares Chambliss Astronomical Writing Award

The American Astronomical Society (AAS) announced today at its semi-annual meeting in Seattle that J. Craig Wheeler and David Branch will share its Chambliss Astronomical Writing Award for 2019. Wheeler is the Samuel T. and Fern Yanagisawa Regents Professor of Astronomy at The University of Texas at Austin.

Texas Astronomers Find that Dark Matter Dominates Across Cosmic Time

Texas Astronomers Find that Dark Matter Dominates Across Cosmic Time

This composite image of the dusty star-forming galaxy DSFG850.95 shows young stars, seen in blue from Hubble Space Telescope, and dust, seen in red by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array. Credit: Patrick Drew (UT Austin)/STScI/ALMA

In findings published today in The Astrophysical Journal, University of Texas at Austin astronomers report that they have stumbled on an extraordinary galaxy that may corroborate a recently contested theory about dark matter.

StarDate Radio Program Celebrates 40 Years

StarDate Radio Program Celebrates 40 Years

Award winning radio program StarDate turns 40 years old

The longest running nationally aired science program is marking a major milestone. "StarDate" radio, produced by The University of Texas at Austin's McDonald Observatory, celebrates 40 years on the nation's airwaves. In its nearly 15,000 daily two-minute episodes, "StarDate" has brought skywatching and astronomy to millions of listeners across the United States. Today, it airs on about 400 radio affiliates, split evenly between public and commercial stations.

Magnetic Waves Create Chaos in Star-Forming Clouds

Magnetic Waves Create Chaos in Star-Forming Clouds

New research by Stella Offner, assistant professor of astronomy at The University of Texas at Austin, finds that magnetic waves are an important factor driving the process of star formation within the enormous clouds that birth stars. Her research sheds light on the processes that are responsible for setting the properties of stars, which in turn affects the formation of planets orbiting them, and, ultimately, life on those planets. The research is published in the current issue of the journal Nature Astronomy.

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Galactic “Wind” Stifling Star Formation is Most Distant Yet Seen

Galactic “Wind” Stifling Star Formation is Most Distant Yet Seen

Artist impression of an outflow of molecular gas from an active star-forming galaxy. Credit: NRAO/AUI/NSF, D. Berry

For the first time, a powerful "wind" of molecules has been detected in a galaxy located 12 billion light-years away. Probing a time when the universe was less than 10 percent of its current age, University of Texas at Austin astronomer Justin Spilker's research sheds light on how the earliest galaxies regulated the birth of stars to keep from blowing themselves apart. The research will appear in the Sept. 7 issue of the journal Science.

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New Geodetic Observatory Coming to UT Austin’s McDonald Observatory

New Geodetic Observatory Coming to UT Austin’s McDonald Observatory

The site for the McDonald Geodetic Observatory’s 12-meter radio telescope dish is being prepared at the base of Mount Locke, near the Frank N. Bash Visitors Center. Credit: Frank Cianciolo/McDonald Observatory.

A new scientific facility is under construction on the grounds of The University of Texas at Austin's McDonald Observatory that will help scientists better understand Earth and could help minimize the effects of geohazards such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, sea level changes and landslides.