The longest running nationally aired science program is marking a major milestone. “StarDate” radio, produced by The University of Texas at Austin’s McDonald Observatory, celebrates 40 years on the nation’s airwaves. In its nearly 15,000 daily two-minute episodes, “StarDate” has brought skywatching and astronomy to millions of listeners across the United States. Today, it airs on about 400 radio affiliates, split evenly between public and commercial stations.
New research by Stella Offner, assistant professor of astronomy at The University of Texas at Austin, finds that magnetic waves are an important factor driving the process of star formation within the enormous clouds that birth stars. Her research sheds light on the processes that are responsible for setting the properties of stars, which in turn affects the formation of planets orbiting them, and, ultimately, life on those planets. The research is published in the current issue of the journal Nature Astronomy.
AUSTIN, Texas — For the first time, a powerful “wind” of molecules has been detected in a galaxy located 12 billion light-years away. Probing a time when the universe was less than 10 percent of its current age, University of Texas at Austin astronomer Justin Spilker’s research sheds light on how the earliest galaxies regulated the birth of stars to keep from blowing themselves apart. The research will appear in the Sept. 7 issue of the journal Science.
FORT DAVIS, Texas — A new scientific facility is under construction on the grounds of The University of Texas at Austin’s McDonald Observatory that will help scientists better understand Earth and could help minimize the effects of geohazards such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, sea level changes and landslides.
The University of Texas at Austin’s McDonald Observatory today shared in announcing the start of hard rock excavation for the Giant Magellan Telescope’s (GMT’s) massive concrete pier and the foundations for the telescope’s enclosure on its site at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile. McDonald Observatory is a founding partner of the international collaboration building the GMT, which will be the world’s largest telescope when completed in the next decade.
FORT DAVIS, Texas — The University of Texas at Austin's McDonald Observatory has collaborated with the Permian Basin Petroleum Association (PBPA) and the Texas Oil and Gas Association (TXOGA) to reduce light shining into the sky from drilling rigs and related activities in West Texas. The excess light has the potential to drown out the light from stars and galaxies, and threatens to reduce the effectiveness of the observatory's research telescopes to study the mysteries of the universe.
The spectacular merger of two neutron stars that generated gravitational waves announced last fall likely did something else: birthed a black hole, according to a team of researchers including Pawan Kumar and J. Craig Wheeler of The University of Texas at Austin. This newly spawned black hole would be the lowest mass black hole ever found.
Astrophysicists will conduct experiments designed to re-create the physical environment inside stars, with a new $7 million grant that the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) has awarded to The University of Texas at Austin. This work could help astronomers reduce uncertainties about the sizes and ages of super-dense objects known as white dwarf stars.
The University of Texas at Austin McDonald Observatory has entered into a partnership with the National Park Service (NPS) to train park rangers in bringing the wonders of the night sky to their visitors. The observatory also will create outreach programs for the park service.
Two postdoctoral fellows in the Department of Astronomy at The University of Texas at Austin have received the 51 Pegasi b Fellowship from the Heising-Simons Foundation.