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From the College of Natural Sciences
You Can Help Decode the Universe!

You Can Help Decode the Universe!

Would you like to help astronomers understand more about the universe? McDonald Observatory astronomers are trying to learn more about dark energy — the mysterious force causing the universe to expand faster and faster over time. And now there is a fun and easy way anyone can help with their research, using a smartphone or computer.

Exoplanet is Gobbling Up Gas and Dust as it Continues to Build Mass

Exoplanet is Gobbling Up Gas and Dust as it Continues to Build Mass

This illustration of the newly forming exoplanet PDS 70b shows how material may be falling onto the giant world as it builds up mass. Researchers got a unique look at radiation from extremely hot gas falling onto the planet with Hubble Space Telescope, allowing them to directly measure the planet’s mass growth rate for the first time. Credit: Y. Zhou/UT Austin/NASA, ESA, STScI and J. Olmsted
The Hubble Space Telescope has allowed astronomers from The University of Texas at Austin to get a rare look at a young, Jupiter-sized planet that is growing by feeding off material surrounding a young star 370 light-years from Earth.
Texas Astronomers Lead Major Projects in James Webb Space Telescope’s First Year

Texas Astronomers Lead Major Projects in James Webb Space Telescope’s First Year

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope

Astronomers at The University of Texas at Austin are set to lead some of the largest programs in the first year of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), including the largest project overall. Set to launch this Halloween, the telescope will become operational by mid-2022. Altogether, UT astronomers received about 500 hours of telescope time in JWST's first year.

McDonald Observatory Honors Local Businesses, Organizations for Night-Sky-Friendly Lighting

McDonald Observatory Honors Local Businesses, Organizations for Night-Sky-Friendly Lighting

FORT DAVIS, Texas — Just in time for International Dark Skies Week (April 5-12), McDonald Observatory is announcing a new program to honor West Texas businesses and organizations for Night Skies Friendly Lighting practices. These practices keep light on the ground and out of the sky, helping to preserve the exceptional night skies for which far West Texas is famous.

Visualizing Science 2021: Finding the Art in College Research

Visualizing Science 2021: Finding the Art in College Research

The College of Natural Sciences again invited its faculty, staff and students to submit the best images from their research for our Visualizing Science competition. The images they delivered are the ones that spoke to their creators, offering both inspiration and information as they conducted their scholarly investigations during a challenging year.

Engineering Marvel: Sixth Mirror Cast for Giant Magellan Telescope

Engineering Marvel: Sixth Mirror Cast for Giant Magellan Telescope

Artist’s concept of the Giant Magellan Telescope in its enclosure at Las Campanas Observatory in the Chilean Andes. (Giant Magellan Telescope – GMTO Corp.)

The University of Texas at Austin and other partners of the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) announce the fabrication of the sixth of seven of the world's largest monolithic mirrors. These mirrors will allow astronomers to see farther into the universe with more detail than any other optical telescope before. The sixth 8.4-meter (27.5 feet) mirror — about two stories high when standing on edge — is being fabricated at The University of Arizona's Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab and will take nearly four years to complete.

A Virtual Science Festival as Big as Texas

A Virtual Science Festival as Big as Texas

The University of Texas at Austin is gearing up to welcome science enthusiasts everywhere to the Texas Science Festival. The virtual celebration features rapid-fire and deep-dive presentations by world-changing scientists, live hands-on demonstrations, explosive science, telescope viewings, opportunities to interact with experts from Texas' flagship public research institution and more.

HETDEX Project On Track to Probe Dark Energy

HETDEX Project On Track to Probe Dark Energy

Three years into its quest to reveal the nature of dark energy, the Hobby-Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment (HETDEX) is on track to complete the largest map of the cosmos ever. The team will create a three-dimensional map of 2.5 million galaxies that will help astronomers understand how and why the expansion of the universe is speeding up ov...
Texas Astronomers Revive Idea for ‘Ultimately Large Telescope’ on the Moon

Texas Astronomers Revive Idea for ‘Ultimately Large Telescope’ on the Moon

A group of astronomers from The University of Texas at Austin has found that a telescope idea shelved by NASA a decade ago can solve a problem that no other telescope can: It would be able to study the first stars in the universe. The team, led by NASA Hubble Fellow Anna Schauer, will publish their results in an upcoming issue of The Astrophysical Journal.

Major NSF Grant Accelerates Development for the Giant Magellan Telescope

Major NSF Grant Accelerates Development for the Giant Magellan Telescope

The GMTO Corporation has received a $17.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to accelerate the prototyping and testing of some of the most powerful optical and infrared technologies ever engineered. These crucial advancements for the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT), of which The University of Texas at Austin is a founding partner, will allow astronomers to see farther into space with more detail than any other optical telescope before.