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From the College of Natural Sciences
Undergraduate-Led Team Discovers Two New Planets Using Artificial Intelligence

Undergraduate-Led Team Discovers Two New Planets Using Artificial Intelligence

Undergraduate astronomy student Anne Datillo 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.

Astronomer David Lambert Named 2019 Distinguished Texas Scientist

Astronomer David Lambert Named 2019 Distinguished Texas Scientist

The Texas Academy of Science has chosen David Lambert, the Isabel McCutcheon Harte Centennial Chair in Astronomy, as the 2019 Distinguished Texas Scientist in honor of his notable career and significant contributions to science.

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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Astronomer Caitlin Casey Named a 2019 Cottrell Scholar

Astronomer Caitlin Casey Named a 2019 Cottrell Scholar

Caitlin Casey has been named a 2019 Cottrell Scholar.

Caitlin Casey, UT Austin astronomy assistant professor, has been named a 2019 Cottrell Scholar by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA).

Alumnus Eric Berger Reflects on the Joys of Science Communication

Alumnus Eric Berger Reflects on the Joys of Science Communication

Meet Eric Berger (B.S. Astronomy, '95), Senior Space Editor at Ars Technica and Editor at Space City Weather.

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.

Excavation Begins on Giant Magellan Telescope Site in Chile

Excavation Begins on Giant Magellan Telescope Site in Chile

Hard rock excavation has begun for the Giant Magellan Telescope's massive concrete pier and the foundations for the telescope's enclosure at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile. More than 13,000 tons of rock will be removed. Credit: GMTO Corporation

The University of Texas at Austin's McDonald Observatory today shared in announcing the start of hard rock excavation for the Giant Magellan Telescope's (GMT's) massive concrete pier and the foundations for the telescope's enclosure on its site at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile. McDonald Observatory is a founding partner of the international collaboration building the GMT, which will be the world's largest telescope when completed in the next decade.

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McDonald Observatory, Oil and Gas Orgs Collaborate to Protect Night Skies

McDonald Observatory, Oil and Gas Orgs Collaborate to Protect Night Skies

Star trails swirl around Polaris, the North Star, above the Hobby-Eberly Telescope at McDonald Observatory. Credit: Ethan Tweedie Photography

The University of Texas at Austin's McDonald Observatory has collaborated with the Permian Basin Petroleum Association (PBPA) and the Texas Oil and Gas Association (TXOGA) to reduce light shining into the sky from drilling rigs and related activities in West Texas. The excess light has the potential to drown out the light from stars and galaxies, and threatens to reduce the effectiveness of the observatory's research telescopes to study the mysteries of the universe.

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Gravitational Wave Event Likely Signaled Creation of a Black Hole

Gravitational Wave Event Likely Signaled Creation of a Black Hole

The merger of two neutron stars (top) that generated gravitational waves, announced in fall 2017, likely did something else: birthed a black hole. This newly spawned black hole would be the lowest mass black hole ever found. X-rays from the resulting object a couple of weeks after the merger (bottom left) and more than three months later (bottom right), suggest the object is not a neutron star, but rather a black hole. Illustration credit: CXC/M. Weiss. X-ray image credit: NASA/CXC/Trinity University/D. Pooley et al.

The spectacular merger of two neutron stars that generated gravitational waves announced last fall likely did something else: birthed a black hole, according to a team of researchers including Pawan Kumar and J. Craig Wheeler of The University of Texas at Austin. This newly spawned black hole would be the lowest mass black hole ever found.

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