Science and Music Under the Stars Saturday in Marfa

Science and Music Under the Stars Saturday in Marfa

Event: McDonald Observatory astronomer Matthew Shetrone and Artistic Director Keith Knopp of Yellow Barn offer insight into the science and art behind popular and classical music in an afternoon presentation followed by a discussion. In the late evening, Yellow Barn percussionists perform Le Noir de l'Etoile, a work celebrating the discovery of pulsars.

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Paul Shapiro Elected to Chair the American Physical Society Division of Astrophysics

Shapiro Elected Chair of APS Astrophysics Division

Paul R. Shapiro, the Frank N. Edmonds, Jr., Regents Professor in Astronomy at The University of Texas at Austin, has been elected to a four-year term to the Chair line of the Division of Astrophysics of the American Physical Society.

The American Physical Society (APS) is the principal professional society in physics in North America. Its Division of Astrophysics represents more than 2,400 scientists working in many fields of astrophysics and cosmology.

Texas House, Senate Honor McDonald Observatory for 75 Years of Excellence

Texas Lege Honors Observatory's 75th Anniversary

AUSTIN — Today, the Texas House of Representatives and Senate will honor The University of Texas at Austin’s McDonald Observatory for 75 years of discovery. The observatory’s 75th anniversary is coming up in May 2014.

 A proclamation sponsored by State Representative Poncho Nevárez (District 74, which includes Jeff Davis and surrounding counties in west Texas) will be read in the House Chamber at approximately 10 a.m.

 At approximately 11 a.m., a resolution sponsored by State Senator José Rodríguez of El Paso will be read in the Senate Chamber.

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Sally Dodson-Robinson Wins Annie Jump Cannon Award

Sally Dodson-Robinson Wins Annie Jump Cannon Award

LONG BEACH, Calif. — The American Astronomical Society has awarded Sally Dodson-Robinson, assistant professor of astronomy at The University of Texas at Austin, its Annie Jump Cannon Award for outstanding research and promise for future research by a woman. The prize was awarded at the society's 221st semiannual meeting in Long Beach, California.

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Exocomets May be as Common as Exoplanets

Exocomets May be as Common as Exoplanets

News release courtesy UC Berkeley

Comets trailing wispy tails across the night sky are a beautiful byproduct of our solar system’s formation, icy leftovers from 4.6 billion years ago when the planets coalesced from rocky rubble.

The discovery by astronomers at the University of California, Berkeley, and Clarion University in Pennsylvania of six likely comets around distant stars suggests that comets — dubbed “exocomets” — are just as common in other stellar systems with planets. 

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Neal Evans Named Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Neal Evans Named AAAS Fellow

AUSTIN, Texas — Seven faculty members at The University of Texas at Austin, including Dr. Neal Evans II of the Astronomy Department, have been elected fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Fellows are chosen annually by their peers to recognize their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.

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Texas Astronomers Measure Most Massive, Most Unusual Black Hole Using Hobby-Eberly Telescope

HET Measures Most Massive, Unusual Black Hole

Fort Davis, Texas — Astronomers have used the Hobby-Eberly Telescope at The University of Texas at Austin's McDonald Observatory to measure the mass of what may be the most massive black hole yet — 17 billion Suns — in galaxy NGC 1277. The unusual black hole makes up 14 percent of its galaxy's mass, rather than the usual 0.1 percent. This galaxy and several more in the same study could change theories of how black holes and galaxies form and evolve. The work will appear in the journal Nature on Nov. 29.

The White Widow Model: A New Scenario for the Birth of Type Ia Supernovae

White Widow: New Model for Birth of Type Ia Supernovae

AUSTIN, Texas — J. Craig Wheeler has studied the exploding stars called supernovae for more than four decades. Now he has a new idea on the identity of the "parents" of one of the most important types of supernovae — the Type Ia, those used as "standard candles" in cosmology studies that led to the discovery of dark energy, the mysterious force causing the universe's expansion to speed up. 

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World's Most Advanced Mirror for Giant Telescope Completed

First Mirror Completed for Giant Magellan Telescope

The first mirror for the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT), a major next-generation telescope in which The University of Texas at Austin is a founding partner, is now completed. 

Becoming operational in the next decade under dark southern-hemisphere skies, GMT will lead a new generation of giant telescopes that will explore planets around other stars and the formation of stars, galaxies and black holes in the early universe. 

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Orionid Meteor Shower to Peak Oct. 20-21

Orionid Meteor Shower to Peak Oct. 20-21

As it does each year, early fall brings crisper air, turning leaves, and the Orionid meteor shower. This year’s best viewing will be in the several hours around midnight Oct. 20 and before dawn on Oct. 21, according to the editors of StarDate magazine.

At its late-night peak, this year’s shower is expected to produce about 25 meteors per hour. The first-quarter moon will set around midnight, so its light will not interfere with the celestial show.

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