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From the College of Natural Sciences
A New Kind of Black Hole, Once a Theory, Now Firmly within Observers’ Sight

A New Kind of Black Hole, Once a Theory, Now Firmly within Observers’ Sight

Astronomers Aaron Smith and Volker Bromm of The University of Texas at Austin, working with Avi Loeb of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, have discovered evidence for an unusual kind of black hole born extremely early in the universe. 

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Young 'Super-Neptune' Offers Clues to Origin of Close-in Exoplanets

Young 'Super-Neptune' Offers Clues to Origin of Close-in Exoplanets

A team of astronomers led by Andrew Mann of The University of Texas at Austin has confirmed the existence of a young planet, only 11 million years old, that orbits extremely close to its star (at 0.05 AU), with an orbital period of 5.4 days. Approximately five times the size of Earth, the new planet is a "super-Neptune" and the youngest such planet known. The discovery lends unique insights into the origin of planetary system architectures.

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The Unexpected Journey of a Veteran Student and Astronomer

The Unexpected Journey of a Veteran Student and Astronomer

The educational journey of one exceptional student has taken her from translating Arabic in the Air Force to learning the secrets of the stars.

McDonald Observatory’s Brendan Bowler Wins Prestigious Hubble Fellowship

McDonald Observatory’s Brendan Bowler Wins Prestigious Hubble Fellowship

Astronomer Brendan Bowler of The University of Texas at Austin has been awarded a competitive Hubble Fellowship from NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), science center for the Hubble Space Telescope.

Newly discovered planet could shed light on planetary evolution

Newly discovered planet could shed light on planetary evolution

University of Texas at Austin astronomer Andrew Mann and colleagues have discovered a planet in a nearby star cluster which could help astronomers better understand how planets form and evolve. The discovery of planet K2-25b used both the Kepler space telescope and the university's McDonald Observatory, and is published in a recent issue of the Astrophysical Journal.

UT Astronomer Solves Mystery of 'Born Again' Stars

UT Astronomer Solves Mystery of 'Born Again' Stars

Astronomer Natalie Gosnell has used Hubble Space Telescope to better understand why some stars aren't evolving as predicted. These so-called "blue stragglers" look hotter and bluer than they should for their advanced age. It's almost as if they were somehow reinvigorated to look much younger than they really are.

Audio: The Race for Dark Energy

Audio: The Race for Dark Energy

This is the second of a three-part series on general relativity.

Einstein's Theory of General Relativity, which describes how gravity works, turns 100 this month. The theory has successfully explained a lot of what we observe out in the universe; but there are signs that it's incomplete. In the 1990s, astronomers observed that the expansion of the universe is speeding up, as if some mysterious force is pushing everything apart faster and faster. Nearly 20 years later, one of the biggest unanswered questions in science is: what is this dark energy? Not only was dark energy not predicted by general relativity, but its mere existence might mean that the theory needs to be tweaked or even replaced.

Giant Magellan Telescope, World’s Largest, Breaks Ground in Chilean Desert

Giant Magellan Telescope, World’s Largest, Breaks Ground in Chilean Desert

Leaders and supporters from The University of Texas at Austin's McDonald Observatory, along with representatives from an international group of partner universities and research institutions, are gathering on a remote mountaintop high in the Chilean Andes today to celebrate groundbreaking for the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT).

Upgraded Hobby-Eberly Telescope Sees First Light

Upgraded Hobby-Eberly Telescope Sees First Light

After several years and a massive team effort, one of the world's largest telescopes has opened its giant eye again. The Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) at The University of Texas at Austin's McDonald Observatory has completed a $25 million upgrade and, now using more of its primary mirror, has achieved "first light" as the world's third-largest optical telescope.

The dome of the Hobby-Eberly Telescope sits in front of a backdrop of blue sky. Photo by Ethan Tweedie Photography.
Prof_iles: Steve Finkelstein

Prof_iles: Steve Finkelstein

Assistant professor and astronomer Steve Finkelstein can travel through time. Well, almost. He uses data from the Hubble Space Telescope to gaze beyond to the most distant galaxies in the universe. He studies galaxy evolution, and is on a quest to discover the origins of our Milky Way and life itself.

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Visualizing Science 2015: Beautiful Images From College Research

Visualizing Science 2015: Beautiful Images From College Research

​As part of a continuing tradition, we invited faculty, staff and students in the College of Natural Sciences community to send us images this past spring that celebrated the magnificent beauty of science and the scientific process. Our goal was to find those moments where science and art become one and the same.

College Welcomes New Faculty in New Academic Year

College Welcomes New Faculty in New Academic Year

The College of Natural Sciences welcomes 11 new faculty this fall. Whether searching for evidence of exotic new physics, enabling the creation of personal robots, or addressing critical problems in cancer research, these industrious and innovative faculty members build on the college's reputation for pioneering research and research-based teaching.

Texas Astronomers Help Find Earth’s Older, Bigger Cousin

Texas Astronomers Help Find Earth’s Older, Bigger Cousin

University of Texas at Austin astronomers working with NASA’s Kepler mission have helped to discover the first near-Earth-sized planet around a Sun-like star in the “habitable zone,” the range of distances where liquid water could pool on a planet’s surface. They used the university’s McDonald Observatory to help confirm the finding, which has been accepted for publication in The Astronomical Journal.

UT Austin, International Partners Approve Start of Construction for Giant Magellan Telescope

UT Austin, International Partners Approve Start of Construction for Giant Magellan Telescope

The Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) has announced a major milestone today with 11 international partners including The University of Texas at Austin unanimously approving its construction, securing the future of the project with more than $500 million to begin work on the world's most powerful optical telescope. The decision initiates final design and fabrication of the GMT, which is poised to become the largest optical telescope in existence.

Happy 25th Anniversary, Hubble Space Telescope

Happy 25th Anniversary, Hubble Space Telescope

Abell 1703, a gravitational lensLike a newborn's foggy vision slowly coming into focus, the Hubble Space Telescope has enabled humanity to see more clearly than ever before the world beyond our noses, a cosmos of contradictions: incandescent and quiescent, violent and benevolent, chaotic and orderly.