University of Texas at Austin names McDonald Observatory science instrument for philanthropists George and Cynthia Mitchell

Instrument Name Honors George & Cynthia Mitchell

GALVESTON — The University of Texas at Austin is naming an innovative astronomical instrument doing groundbreaking work at McDonald Observatory after pioneering energy producer, real estate developer, and philanthropist George P. Mitchell and his late wife Cynthia Mitchell. University representatives including McDonald Observatory Director David L. Lambert and Chief Astronomer Gary Hill, along with members of the UT-Austin Astronomy Program Board of Visitors, will celebrate the event with Mr. Mitchell and his family at a private event in Galveston today.

Las Cumbres Telescope Sees First Light at McDonald Observatory

First Light for Las Cumbres Telescope

FORT DAVIS, Texas — The first of a planned suite of telescopes of the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope (LCOGT) Network achieved first light recently at The University of Texas at Austin's McDonald Observatory.

 “We're thrilled,” said LCOGT Scientific Director Tim Brown, “to have our first telescope in such a well-supported site, with superbly dark skies.”

Mountaintop Blast for Giant Magellan Telescope; Video Available

Giant Magellan Telescope Site Blasting Video Available

The detonation of a mountain peak at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile today initiated site preparation for the construction of the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT). The blasting will create a level foundation for the construction of the telescope.

The event was streamed live online courtesy of the US Embassy in Chile, and the video now is available at the Carnegie Institution's YouTube channel.

Karl Gebhardt Honored by The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas

Karl Gebhardt Receives O'Donnell Award

AUSTIN — In recognition of his discoveries regarding the formation of black holes and galaxies, astronomer Karl Gebhardt will receive the 2012 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award in Science from The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas (TAMEST).

The O’Donnell Award honors outstanding young Texas researchers in medicine, engineering, science and technology innovation. TAMEST will present the awards during its ninth annual conference, “Energy for Life — from Human Metabolism to Powering the Planet,” Jan. 12-13 in Houston.


Mirror Casting Event for the Giant Magellan Telescope on January 14

Giant Magellan Telescope Gets Another Mirror

TUCSON — On Jan. 14, the second 8.4-meter (27.6 ft) diameter mirror for the Giant Magellan Telescope, or GMT, will be cast inside a rotating furnace at the University of Arizona's Steward Observatory Mirror Lab underneath the campus football stadium. The mirror lab will host a special event to highlight this milestone in the creation of the optics for the Giant Magellan Telescope.


Pair of Black Holes 'Weigh In' at 10 Billion Suns; Most Massive Yet

Pair of Black Holes Most Massive Yet

AUSTIN — A team of astronomers including Karl Gebhardt and graduate student Jeremy Murphy of The University of Texas at Austin have discovered the most massive black holes to date — two monsters weighing as much as 10 billion suns and threatening to consume anything, even light, within a region five times the size of our solar system.

The research is published in the December 8 issue of the journal Nature, in a paper headlined by graduate student Nicholas McConnell and professor Chung-Pei Ma of The University of California, Berkeley.


University of Texas at Austin Astronomer Sally Dodson-Robinson Receives Prestigious Career Grant from National Science Foundation

Sally Dodson-Robinson Receives NSF Career Grant

AUSTIN, Texas — University of Texas at Austin Assistant Professor Sally Dodson-Robinson has received a Faculty Early Career Development award of $363,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

These prestigious NSF awards, called CAREER grants, recognize promising young faculty members and support their research and education missions with five years of funding. Dodson-Robinson has so far been awarded $363,000 in support of her research program called "Giant Planets in Dusty Disks."


Hubble Study Challenges 'Cosmic Fireworks' as Largest Driver of Galaxy Evolution

'Cosmic Fireworks' May Not be Largest Driver of Galaxy Evolution

AUSTIN — A Hubble Space Telescope study of massive galaxies two to three billion years after the Big Bang has uncovered two remarkable results that
challenge the common lore that major mergers play a dominant role in growing galaxies over a wide range of cosmic epochs.