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From the College of Natural Sciences

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McDonald Observatory Hires Teznie Pugh as New Superintendent

McDonald Observatory Hires Teznie Pugh as New Superintendent

The University of Texas at Austin's McDonald Observatory has hired Teznie Pugh as its new Superintendent, responsible for managing day-to-day operations at the West Texas site.

Planet Finder Validates Its First Habitable-Zone Exoplanet, a Mini Neptune

Planet Finder Validates Its First Habitable-Zone Exoplanet, a Mini Neptune

The Habitable Zone Planet Finder instrument. (Credit: Gudmundur Stefanssonn/Penn State)

Astronomers have validated their first exoplanet with the Habitable Zone Planet Finder instrument on the Hobby-Eberly Telescope, one of the world's largest telescopes, located at The University of Texas at Austin's McDonald Observatory.

Distant Giant Planets Form Differently than ‘Failed Stars’

Distant Giant Planets Form Differently than ‘Failed Stars’

A team of astronomers led by Brendan Bowler of The University of Texas at Austin has probed the formation process of giant exoplanets and brown dwarfs, a class of objects that are more massive than giant planets, but not massive enough to ignite nuclear fusion in their cores to shine like true stars.

Caroline Morley Receives Annie Jump Cannon Award

Caroline Morley Receives Annie Jump Cannon Award

The American Astronomical Society (AAS) has awarded Caroline Morley, assistant professor of astronomy at The University of Texas at Austin, its 2020 Annie Jump Cannon Award in Astronomy for outstanding research and promise for future research by a postdoctoral woman researcher within five years of earning her PhD.

Texas Astronomer Helps NASA Planet Hunter Find its First Earth-Sized, Habitable-Zone World

Texas Astronomer Helps NASA Planet Hunter Find its First Earth-Sized, Habitable-Zone World

Artist illustration of TOI 700 d, the first Earth-size habitable-zone world discovered by TESS. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has discovered its first Earth-size planet in its star's habitable zone, the range of distances where conditions may be just right to allow the presence of liquid water on the surface. A team of scientists, including Andrew Vanderburg of The University of Texas at Austin, confirmed the find, called TOI 700 d, using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and have modeled the planet's potential environments to help inform future observations.

Twin Astronomer Probes ‘DNA’ of Twin Stars to Reveal Family History of Milky Way

Twin Astronomer Probes ‘DNA’ of Twin Stars to Reveal Family History of Milky Way

Astronomer Keith Hawkins (left), an assistant professor at The University of Texas at Austin, is pictured with twin brother Kevin Hawkins. Credit: Rob Hardin

Twin stars appear to share chemical "DNA" that could help scientists map the history of the Milky Way galaxy, according to new research by astronomer Keith Hawkins of The University of Texas at Austin accepted for publication in The Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

UT Austin Astronomer Spies Most Distant Dusty Galaxy Hidden in Plain Sight

UT Austin Astronomer Spies Most Distant Dusty Galaxy Hidden in Plain Sight

Artist impression of what MAMBO-9 would look like in visible light. The galaxy is very dusty and it has yet to build most of its stars. Credit: NRAO/AUI/NSF, B. Saxton.

Astronomer Caitlin Casey of The University of Texas at Austin has used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to spot the light of a massive galaxy seen just 970 million years after the Big Bang. This galaxy, called MAMBO-9, is the most distant dusty star-forming galaxy that has ever been observed without the help of a gravitational lens.

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Giant Magellan Telescope Signs Contract for Telescope Structure

Giant Magellan Telescope Signs Contract for Telescope Structure

The latest design of the GMT enclosure, telescope and site at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile . Credit: M3 Engineering and GMTO Corporation.

GMTO Corporation, the organization managing the development of the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) on behalf of its U.S. and international founders, has signed a contract with MT Mechatronics and Ingersoll Machine Tools to design, build and install the telescope's precision steel structure.

Newly Discovered Giant Planet Slingshots Around its Star

Newly Discovered Giant Planet Slingshots Around its Star

Harlan J. Smith Telescope at the University of Texas at Austin's McDonald Observatory. Photo credit: Bill Nowlin Photography.

Astronomers at The University of Texas at Austin's McDonald Observatory, along with colleagues at Caltech and elsewhere, have discovered a planet three times the mass of Jupiter that travels on a long, egg-shaped path around its star. If this planet were somehow placed into our own solar system, it would swing from within our asteroid belt to out beyond Neptune. Other giant planets with highly elliptical orbits have been found around other stars, but none of those worlds were located at the very outer reaches of their star systems like this one.

The New Voice of StarDate

The New Voice of StarDate

StarDate Radio is announcing today that Billy Henry is the program's new voice. Henry, an Austin-based voice talent, musician, composer, and college lecturer, becomes the third narrator of the program in its 41-year history. He assumes the title from Sandy Wood, who retired from the program yesterday. Henry's first program airs today.