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From the College of Natural Sciences
Texas Astronomers Will Lead Early Studies with $8 Billion James Webb Space Telescope

Texas Astronomers Will Lead Early Studies with $8 Billion James Webb Space Telescope

A full-sized model of the James Webb Space Telescope is seen in Austin during the South by Southwest festival in 2013.

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, the powerful successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, is expected to launch in 2019 after decades of development. Now the agency has announced the scientists who will use the $8 billion telescope first, testing its instruments to prove it's in good working order. Steven Finkelstein, an associate professor of astronomy at The University of Texas at Austin, leads one of the chosen Early Release Science projects as principal investigator.

Discoveries with Ties to UT Austin Rank Among Top Scientific Findings of the Year

Discoveries with Ties to UT Austin Rank Among Top Scientific Findings of the Year

Simulation of black holes colliding. Credit: SXS, the Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes

Two amazing scientific discoveries, both with ties to the College of Natural Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin, were named the top 2 science stories of 2016 by Discover Magazine. Other major media outlets also included them in their year-end "best of" lists, including National Geographic, Science News, Science and the New York Times. A third story from the College of Liberal Arts and Jackson School of Geosciences, which solved the mystery of how the most famous human ancestor died, appears in Discover's top ten as well.

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.

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.

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.

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...
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.

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.

Astronomers Probe ‘Evaporating’ Planet Around Nearby Star with Hobby-Eberly Telescope

Astronomers Probe ‘Evaporating’ Planet Around Nearby Star with Hobby-Eberly Telescope

A Jupiter-size planet in a nearby solar system is dissolving because of interactions with its parent star.

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