News

From the College of Natural Sciences

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.

Astronomy Outreach Program Takes Texas Teachers on Trip of a Lifetime

Astronomy Outreach Program Takes Texas Teachers on Trip of a Lifetime


A Department of Astronomy outreach program achieved the culmination of 17 years of hard work recently when several Texas teachers flew as part of the science team aboard NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA).

McDonald Observatory’s Andrew Mann Wins Prestigious Hubble Fellowship

McDonald Observatory’s Andrew Mann Wins Prestigious Hubble Fellowship

Astronomer Andrew Mann of The University of Texas at Austin has been awarded a Hubble Fellowship from NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute, science center for the Hubble Space Telescope.

Astronomers Discover Ancient Solar System with Five Earth-sized Planets

Astronomers Discover Ancient Solar System with Five Earth-sized Planets

A team of scientists including The University of Texas at Austin’s Dr. William Cochran has discovered a solar system similar to our own dating back to the dawn of our Milky Way galaxy. They are reporting the find of five planets with sizes between Mercury and Venus orbiting the Sun-like star Kepler-444 in today’s issue of The Astrophysical Journal.

Black Hole Chokes on a Swallowed Star

Black Hole Chokes on a Swallowed Star

A five-year analysis of an event captured by a tiny telescope at McDonald Observatory and followed up by telescopes on the ground and in space has led astronomers to believe they witnessed a giant black hole tear apart a star. The work is published this month in The Astrophysical Journal.

Head Room: McDonald Observatory

Head Room: McDonald Observatory

Take a trip out to Fort Davis, under some of the darkest skies in North America, and meet the telescopes that are making astronomical history. Learn more at McDonald Observatory's websiteVideo by Jeff Mertz.

UT Austin to Become Partner in Construction of World’s Largest Telescope

UT Austin to Become Partner in Construction of World’s Largest Telescope
The University of Texas System Board of Regents Friday authorized UT Austin to spend $50 million in research reserves to participate in building the Giant Magellan Telescope, which will be the world’s largest telescope when it’s completed in 2020. The project will give students, researchers and faculty the opportunity to make groundb...

Leading Astronomer Taft Armandroff Appointed Director of UT’s McDonald Observatory

Leading Astronomer Taft Armandroff Appointed Director of UT’s McDonald Observatory

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Astronomer Taft Armandroff has been appointed the new director of the College of Natural Sciences McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis, Texas.

Texas Astronomer Discovers Most Distant Known Galaxy

Texas Astronomer Discovers Most Distant Known Galaxy

University of Texas at Austin astronomer Steven Finkelstein has led a team that has discovered and measured the distance to the most distant galaxy ever found. The galaxy is seen as it was at a time just 700 million years after the Big Bang.

Texas Astronomers Measure Most Massive, Most Unusual Black Hole Using Hobby-Eberly Telescope

Texas Astronomers Measure Most Massive, Most Unusual Black Hole Using Hobby-Eberly Telescope
The unusual black hole makes up 14 percent of its galaxy's mass, rather than the usual 0.1 percent, and lies 220 million light-years away in the constellation Perseus.

The White Widow Model: A New Scenario for the Birth of Type Ia Supernovae

The White Widow Model: A New Scenario for the Birth of Type Ia Supernovae

Astronomer J. Craig Wheeler has a new idea on the identity of the "parents" of one of the most important types of supernovae in the universe.

Video: The Giant Magellan Telescope

Video: The Giant Magellan Telescope

With its role in the construction of the Giant Magellan Telescope, the McDonald Observatory continues to push forward the frontiers of astronomical science.

NASA, Texas Astronomers Find First Multi-Planet System around a Binary Star

NASA, Texas Astronomers Find First Multi-Planet System around a Binary Star

The discovery of the Tatooine-like system proves that whole planetary systems can form in a disk around a binary star.