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From the College of Natural Sciences
Astronomers Discover Rocky Planet Orbiting Nearest Star, Proxima Centauri

Astronomers Discover Rocky Planet Orbiting Nearest Star, Proxima Centauri

An international team of astronomers including Michael Endl of The University of Texas at Austin have found clear evidence of a planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Sun. The long-sought new world, called Proxima b, orbits its cool red parent star every 11 days and has a temperature suitable for liquid water to exist on its surface. This rocky world is a little more massive than Earth and is the closest known exoplanet to us — and may be the closest possible abode for life outside our solar system.

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.

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.

Three Members of Natural Sciences Recognized for Teaching Excellence

Three Members of Natural Sciences Recognized for Teaching Excellence

Three members of the College of Natural Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin have been inducted into the University's respected Academy of Distinguished Teachers for 2016.

Radio Doc Features Research and Outreach at McDonald Observatory

Radio Doc Features Research and Outreach at McDonald Observatory

A radio documentary about The University of Texas at Austin's McDonald Observatory has garnered KRTS, or Marfa Public Radio, a regional Edward R. Murrow Award for documentary news.

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.

Gravitational Waves Discovery Has Deep UT Connections

Gravitational Waves Discovery Has Deep UT Connections

The recent detection of gravitational waves at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), which is partially led by executive director and University of Texas at Austin alumnus David Reitze, has even deeper roots at UT Austin.

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.

Testing General Relativity

Testing General Relativity

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

The Theory of General Relativity—Einstein's century-old description of gravity—presented physicists with some pretty bizarre predictions. To test them, scientists from the University of Texas at Austin have traveled to the Sahara Desert to observe a rare eclipse, launched into Earth orbit the densest known object orbiting anywhere in the Solar System, and used computers to model ripples in space and time unleashed by the mergers of black holes.

A team from the University of Texas at Austin constructed a temporary telescope house from plywood and styrofoam in the Sahara Desert to observe the bending of starlight by the sun during a total solar eclipse in June 1973. Photo: Richard Matzner.