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From the College of Natural Sciences
Cosmic Dawn III Recreates the Early Universe Epoch of Reionization in Unprecedented Detail

Cosmic Dawn III Recreates the Early Universe Epoch of Reionization in Unprecedented Detail

The CoDa III simulation shows galaxies forming in the early universe along the filaments and knots of the “cosmic web.”

The Cosmic Dawn ("CoDa") Project, an international team of astrophysicists, recently reached a new milestone – CoDa III – the first trillion-element simulation of how the universe evolved in its first billion years. This is when galaxies formed and flooded the universe with enough UV starlight to ionize all its atoms and lift the fog that blocked our view. CoDa III is the most detailed and accurate simulation ever produced of this cosmic era, known as the Epoch of Reionization ("EoR"), aligning theoretical and observational data for the first time.

James Webb Telescope Reveals Milky Way-like Galaxies in Young Universe

James Webb Telescope Reveals Milky Way-like Galaxies in Young Universe

New images from NASA's James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) reveal for the first time galaxies with stellar bars — elongated features of stars stretching from the centers of galaxies into their outer disks — at a time when the universe was a mere 25% of its present age. The finding of so-called barred galaxies, similar to our Milky Way, this early in the universe will require scientists to refine their theories of galaxy evolution.

Right Time, Right Place

Right Time, Right Place

​Like the Hubble Space Telescope before it, the James Webb Space Telescope has the potential to change the course of astronomy and inspire a new generation of astronomers.

Amateur Scientists Have Helped Astronomers Identify Nearly a Quarter-Million Galaxies

Amateur Scientists Have Helped Astronomers Identify Nearly a Quarter-Million Galaxies

The Hobby-Eberly Telescope collects images that citizen scientists use to identify galaxies in the Dark Energy Explorers project.

Astronomers on a historically ambitious and massive galaxy-mapping mission have activated more than 10,000 amateur scientists in 85 countries to help in their quest. Now they hope to significantly scale up their volunteer force for a unique project that could reveal for the first time the nature of dark energy.

Postdoctoral Fellow Receives Inaugural NAS Science Communication Award

Postdoctoral Fellow Receives Inaugural NAS Science Communication Award

Arianna Long, a NASA Hubble Postdoctoral Fellow at The University of Texas at Austin, was awarded one of the inaugural Eric and Wendy Schmidt Awards for Excellence in Science Communication from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. This award honors science journalists and research scientists who have developed creative, original work related to issues and advances in science, engineering, and/or medicine to inform the general public.

How Black Holes Might Have Influenced the First Stars

How Black Holes Might Have Influenced the First Stars

Just milliseconds after the universe's Big Bang, chaos reigned. Atomic nuclei fused and broke apart in hot, frenzied motion. Incredibly strong pressure waves built up and squeezed matter so tightly together that black holes formed, which astrophysicists call primordial black holes.

An artist's concept illustrates merging black holes. Credit: LIGO/Caltech/MIT/R. Hurt (IPAC).
Stars Shed Light on Why Stellar Populations Are So Similar in Milky Way

Stars Shed Light on Why Stellar Populations Are So Similar in Milky Way

Mock narrowband observation of a simulated star-forming region where massive stars destroy their parent cloud. Credit: STARFORGE

Scientists have uncovered what sets the masses of stars, a mystery that has captivated astrophysicists for decades. Their answer? Stars, themselves.

Wide View of Early Universe Hints at Galaxy Among the Earliest Ever Detected

Wide View of Early Universe Hints at Galaxy Among the Earliest Ever Detected

Members of the CEERS collaboration explore the first wide, deep field image from the James Webb Space Telescope at the Texas Advanced Computing Center’s Visualization Lab on the UT Austin campus on July 21, 2022. Credit: Nolan Zunk/University of Texas at Austin.

Two new images from NASA's James Webb Space Telescope show what may be among the earliest galaxies ever observed. Both images include objects from more than 13 billion years ago, and one offers a much wider field of view than Webb's First Deep Field image, which was released amid great fanfare July 12. The images represent some of the first out of a major collaboration of astronomers and other academic researchers teaming with NASA and global partners to uncover new insights about the universe.

Investment from UT Austin, Other Partners Accelerates Construction of Giant Magellan Telescope

Investment from UT Austin, Other Partners Accelerates Construction of Giant Magellan Telescope

The Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) is a next-generation optical/infrared telescope being developed in northern Chile that will yield important discoveries on topics such as galaxies in the early universe and Earth-sized planets orbiting nearby stars.

Artists' concept of the Giant Magellan Telescope. Image credit: Giant Magellan Telescope - GMTO Corporation.
Worlds of Possibility: Gift Helps Unlock Secrets of the Universe

Worlds of Possibility: Gift Helps Unlock Secrets of the Universe

What starts here reveals the universe. A world-changing gift of $10 million from visionary philanthropist David Booth increases UT's access to the Giant Magellan Telescope, which will help students in the College of Natural Sciences peer far into the universe.

Supernova Reveals Secrets to Texas-led Team of Astronomers

Supernova Reveals Secrets to Texas-led Team of Astronomers

Schematic of Supernova 2014C

An international group of astronomers led by Benjamin Thomas of The University of Texas at Austin has used observations from the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) at the university's McDonald Observatory to unlock a puzzling mystery about a stellar explosion discovered several years ago and evolving even now. The results, published in today's issue of The Astrophysical Journal, will help astronomers better understand the process of how massive stars live and die.

McDonald Observatory Holds Dark Skies Festival April 29-30

McDonald Observatory Holds Dark Skies Festival April 29-30

Visitors in the amphitheater during a public star party at the Frank N. Bash Visitors Center. The Milky Way is clearly visible under the dark skies of McDonald Observatory. The streak at top center shows the path of an artificial satellite passing overhead. Credit: Ethan Tweedie Photography

FORT DAVIS, Texas — The University of Texas at Austin's McDonald Observatory will hold its first Dark Skies Festival Friday, April 29, and Saturday, April 30. The festival will include daytime and evening events for the whole family, plus the debut of the new "Preserving Dark Skies" exhibit in the Frank N. Bash Visitors Center. Both the exhibit and the festival are funded by Apache Corporation.

Two NASA Post-Doctoral Fellows Coming to UT Austin

Two NASA Post-Doctoral Fellows Coming to UT Austin

NASA has selected 24 new Fellows for its prestigious NASA Hubble Fellowship Program (NHFP), two of whom are heading to The University of Texas at Austin. The program enables outstanding postdoctoral scientists to pursue independent research in any area of NASA astrophysics, using theory, observations, simulations, experimentation or instrument development. Each fellowship provides the awardee up to three years of support at a university or research center of their choosing in the United States.

World’s Largest International Dark Sky Reserve Created by McDonald Observatory, Community Partners

World’s Largest International Dark Sky Reserve Created by McDonald Observatory, Community Partners

The Milky Way soars over the domes of McDonald Observatory's Mount Locke showcasing the region's dark skies. (Credit: Stephen Hummel/McDonald Observatory)

The world's largest International Dark Sky Reserve is coming to Texas and Mexico, thanks to a partnership between The University of Texas at Austin's McDonald Observatory, The Nature Conservancy, the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) and many others. The designation, granted by the IDA, recognizes the commitment of organizations, governments, businesses and residents in the region to maintaining dark skies. The move will benefit not only astronomical research, but also wildlife, ecology and tourism.

Astronomer Stella Offner Receives Delta Young Astronomer Lectureship Award

Astronomer Stella Offner Receives Delta Young Astronomer Lectureship Award

Astronomer Stella Offner of The University of Texas at Austin has been awarded the NCU-Delta Young Astronomer Lectureship Award by Taiwan's National Central University and the Delta Electronics Foundation.