CosmoQuest Partners, Including McDonald Observatory, Share $11.5 Million to Expand Astronomy Outreach Programs

CosmoQuest Receives $11.5 Million for Astronomy Outreach Program

The CosmoQuest virtual research facility has been awarded an $11.5 million NASA grant to continue working with the public to explore the universe. The University of Texas at Austin’s McDonald Observatory is partnering with CosmoQuest on the project.

Newly Discovered Planet in the Hyades Cluster Could Shed Light on Planetary Evolution

Newly discovered Hyades planet has potential

by Rebecca Johnson

AUSTIN — 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.

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High School Student Helps Discover New Planet, Calculates Frequency of Jupiter-like Planets

Student Discovers Planet, Probes Frequency of Jupiters in Systems

AUSTIN — High school senior Dominick Rowan of Armonk, New York, is making discoveries about other worlds. Working with University of Texas at Austin astronomer Stefano Meschiari, Rowan has helped to find a Jupiter-like planet and has calculated that this type of planet is relatively rare, occurring in three percent of stars overall.

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Texas Astronomer Solves Mystery of 'Born Again' Stars with Hubble Space Telescope

Solving the Mystery of 'Born Again' Stars

by Rebecca Johnson

AUSTIN — University of Texas 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.

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Early Galaxies More Efficient at Making Stars, Hubble Survey Reveals

Early Galaxies More Efficient at Making Stars

AUSTIN — A study published in today’s Astrophysical Journal by University of Texas at Austin assistant professor Steven Finkelstein and colleagues reveals that galaxies were more efficient at making stars when the universe was younger. The announcement explains the team’s discovery, announced in the journal’s September 1 issue, that there are a lot more bright, highly star-forming galaxies in the early universe than scientists previously thought.

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Giant Magellan Telescope, World’s Largest, Breaks Ground in Chilean Desert

GMT Breaks Ground in Chile

ATACAMA DESERT, Chile — Leaders and supporters from The University of Texas at Austin’s McDonald Observatory, along with representatives from an international group of partner universities and research institutions, are gathering on a remote mountaintop high in the Chilean Andes today to celebrate groundbreaking for the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT).

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Upgraded Hobby-Eberly Telescope Sees First Light

Upgraded Hobby-Eberly Telescope Sees First Light

by Rebecca Johnson

FORT DAVIS, Texas — After several years and a massive team effort, one of the world’s largest telescopes has opened its giant eye again. The Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) at The University of Texas at Austin’s McDonald Observatory has completed a $25 million upgrade and, now using more of its primary mirror, has achieved “first light” as the world’s third-largest optical telescope.

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Dying Stars Suffer from 'Irregular Heartbeats'

Dying Stars Suffer from 'Irregular Heartbeats'

AUSTIN — Some dying stars suffer from ‘irregular heartbeats,’ research led by astronomers at The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Warwick has discovered.

The team discovered rapid brightening events — outbursts — in two otherwise normal pulsating white dwarf stars. Ninety-seven percent of all stars, including the Sun, will end their lives as extremely dense white dwarfs after they exhaust their nuclear fuel. Such outbursts have never been seen in this type of star before.

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Texas Astronomers Help Find Earth’s Older, Bigger Cousin

Texas Astronomers Help Find Earth’s Older, Bigger Cousin

AUSTIN — 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 accepted for publication in The Astronomical Journal.

“We are pushing toward Earth 2.0,” McDonald Observatory astronomer Michael Endl said. “This planet is probably the most similar to Earth yet found.”

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University of Texas at Austin, International Partners Approve Start of Construction for Giant Magellan Telescope

UT, Partners Approve Giant Magellan Telescope Construction

AUSTIN — The Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) has announced a major milestone recently with 11 international partners including The University of Texas at Austin unanimously approving its construction, securing the future of the project with more than $500 million to begin work on the world’s most powerful optical telescope. The decision initiates final design and fabrication of the GMT, which is poised to become the largest optical telescope in existence.

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