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From the College of Natural Sciences

Buckyballs, Largest Known Molecules, More Common in Space Than Thought

Observations made with NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope have provided surprises concerning the presence of buckminsterfullerenes, or "buckyballs," the largest known molecules in space.

First Stars in the Universe Weren't Lonely

The first stars to form in the universe were not as lonely as previously thought, finds Volker Bromm.

Texas Astronomers "Weigh" Heaviest Known Black Hole in our Cosmic Neighborhood

Astronomers led by Karl Gebhardt have measured the most massive known black hole in our cosmic neighborhood by combining data from a giant telescope in Hawai'i and a smaller telescope at the McDonald Observatory.
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Texas Astronomer Wins Japanese Physics Prize

Astronomer Eiichiro Komatsu of The University of Texas at Austin has been awarded the 25th annual Nishinomiya-Yukawa Memorial Prize for physics.
Project to Study 'Dark Energy' Receives $8 Million From National Science Foundation

Project to Study 'Dark Energy' Receives $8 Million From National Science Foundation

A project to discover the nature of dark energy, a mysterious force causing the expansion of the universe to speed up, has received an $8 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). AUSTIN, Texas — A project to discover the nature of dark energy, a mysterious force causing the expansion of the universe to speed up, has received an $8...
Quasar Girl

Quasar Girl

Astronomy student Krista Smith fulfills her dream to become an astronomer and studies quasars, the massive, incredibly distant, extraordinarily bright galaxies with active black holes at their center.

'Out of Whack' Planetary System Offers Clues to Disturbing Past

'Out of Whack' Planetary System Offers Clues to Disturbing Past

The discovery of a planetary system “out of whack,” where the orbits of two planets are at a steep angle to each other, was reported today (May 24) by a team of astronomers led by Barbara McArthur of the McDonald Observatory.

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Galaxy & Star Formation

In these two short videos, astronomer Volker Bromm describes simulations he created of galaxy and star formation in the early universe. These kinds of simulations require months of data crunching at the University of Texas at Austin’s Texas Advanced Computing Center, and they help NASA scientists as they prepare new telescopes – like the James Webb...
Texas Astronomers Aid Kepler Mission's Discovery of New Planets

Texas Astronomers Aid Kepler Mission's Discovery of New Planets

Kepler mission astronomers, including co-investigator Bill Cochran of The University of Texas at Austin, announced today the spaceborne telescope has found five new gas giant planets orbiting close to Sun-like stars.

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Astronomers Find Most Massive Black Hole

Researchers have discovered that the black hole at the heart of M87, one the largest nearby giant galaxies, is two to three times more massive than previously thought.

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Q&A with astronomer Anita Cochran, assistant director of the McDonald Observatory

Anita Cochran, assistant director of the McDonald Observatory As part of your research into the nature of comets, you’ve looked at the question of whether comets are responsible for the water in the Earth’s oceans. Why have astronomers thought this? We know comets hit the Earth. They’re about 40 percent frozen water, so it made sense to suppose t...Anita Cochran, assistant director of the McDonald Observatory

When Stars Explode

An image, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, of Supernova 1987a, spectropolarimetric data from which was essential to overturning the consensus about the shape of supernovae explosions.When astronomer J. Craig Wheeler first began observing supernovae, there was so little observational data available that scientists were forced to assume a great d...An image, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, of Supernova 1987a, spectropolarimetric data from which was essential to overturning the consensus about the shape of supernovae explosions.

Galactic Luminaries to Converge on University of Texas Tuesday

AUSTIN, Texas — More than 130 astronomers from nearly a dozen countries and more than 30 institutions will meet in Austin next week to brainstorm about the evolution of galaxies — those vast cities of billions of stars that are the “bricks” making up the cosmos — and the mysterious “dark matter” that is their largest component. The conference, cal...

Sarah Miller, Rhodes Scholar

Sarah Miller didn’t find out that she was going to be a Rhodes Scholar in the mail, or on the phone. She was standing shoulder to shoulder with the 20 or so other finalists in the Texas/Louisiana region, many of whom she’d gotten to know and like over the course of an intense weekend of interviews. “It was very reality-show style,” says Miller, an...sarah miller

Astrophysics Student Wins Coveted Rhodes Scholarship

AUSTIN, Texas—Sarah Miller, an astronomy and physics major who will graduate in May from The University of Texas at Austin, was recently selected as a Rhodes Scholar for 2008. She is one of 32 students in America to be honored with the scholarship. The Rhodes Scholarship was created in 1902 by British philanthropist Cecil Rhodes to bring outstandi...