UT Austin and Partners Cast Fifth Massive Mirror for Giant Magellan Telescope

Casting the Fifth Mirror for the Giant Magellan Telescope

TUCSON, Ariz. — Today, The University of Texas at Austin and its partners in the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization (GMTO) are beginning to cast the fifth of seven mirrors that will form the heart of the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT). The mirror is being cast at The University of Arizona’s Richard F. Caris Mirror Laboratory, a facility known for creating the world’s largest mirrors for astronomy. The 25-meter diameter GMT will be located in the Chilean Andes and will study planets around other stars and to look back to the time when the first galaxies formed.

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Astronomers Detect Comets Outside our Solar System

Astronomers Detect Comets Outside our Solar System

AUSTIN — Astronomers from The University of Texas at Austin, working with scientists from other institutions and amateur astronomers, have spotted the dusty tails of six exocomets — comets outside our solar system — orbiting a faint star 800 light years from Earth.

These cosmic balls of ice and dust, which were about the size of Halley’s comet and traveled about 100,000 miles per hour before they ultimately vaporized, are some of the smallest objects yet found outside our own solar system.

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Astronomers Solve Mystery of Formation of First Supermassive Black Holes

Solving the Mystery of the First Supermassive Black Holes

AUSTIN — An international team of researchers has successfully used a supercomputer simulation to recreate the formation of a massive black hole from supersonic gas streams left over from the Big Bang. The study will be published tomorrow in the journal Science, in a paper led by Shingo Hirano of The University of Texas at Austin's Department of Astronomy.

“This is significant progress. The origin of the monstrous black holes has been a long-standing mystery and now we have a solution to it,” Hirano said.

Heart of an Exploded Star Observed in 3-D

Heart of an Exploded Star Observed in 3-D

Supernovas — the violent endings of the brief yet brilliant lives of massive stars — are among the most cataclysmic events in the cosmos. Though supernovas mark the death of stars, they also trigger the birth of new elements and the formation of new molecules.

In February of 1987, astronomers witnessed one of these events unfold inside the Large Magellanic Cloud, a tiny dwarf galaxy located approximately 160,000 light-years from Earth.

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Hubble Space Telescope Pushed Beyond Limits to Spot Clumps of New Stars in Distant Galaxy

Pushing Hubble Space Telescope Beyond its Limits

When it comes to the distant universe, even the keen vision of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope can only go so far. Teasing out finer details requires clever thinking and a little help from a cosmic alignment with a gravitational lens.

By applying a new computational analysis to a galaxy magnified by a gravitational lens, a team of astronomers including The University of Texas at Austin's Rachael Livermore has obtained images 10 times sharper than what Hubble could achieve on its own. The results show an edge-on disk galaxy studded with brilliant patches of newly formed stars.

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Astronomers Prove What Separates True Stars from Wannabes

Astronomers Prove What Separates True Stars from Wannabes

AUSTIN — Astronomer Trent Dupuy of The University of Texas at Austin has shown what separates true stars from wannabes. Not in Hollywood, but in the whole universe. He will present his research today in a news conference at the semi-annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Austin.

“When we look up and see the stars shining at night, we are seeing only part of the story,” Dupuy said. “Not everything that could be a star ‘makes it,’ and figuring out why this process sometimes fails is just as important as understanding when it succeeds.”

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Do Stars Fall Quietly into Black Holes, or Crash into Something Utterly Unknown?

Do Stars Fall Quietly into Black Holes, or Crash?

AUSTIN, Texas — Astronomers at The University of Texas at Austin and Harvard University have put a basic principle of black holes to the test, showing that matter completely vanishes when pulled in. Their results constitute another successful test for Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.

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Upgraded Hobby-Eberly Telescope dedicated April 9; Dark energy survey, other cutting-edge science on the way

Upgraded HET Dedicated; Cutting-Edge Science on the Way

FORT DAVIS, Texas — The world’s third-largest telescope, the 10-meter Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) located at McDonald Observatory in West Texas, has completed a multiyear $40 Million upgrade to enable it to take on the biggest challenges in astronomy today: unraveling the mystery of dark energy, probing distant galaxies and black holes, discovering and characterizing planets around other stars and much more. The HET Board is celebrating with a dedication ceremony today.

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