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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Astronomers Find Faintest Early Galaxies Yet, Probe How the Early Universe Lit Up

Probing How the Early Universe Lit Up
AUSTIN — Astronomers at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a new technique to discover the faintest galaxies yet seen in the early universe —10 times fainter than any previously seen. These galaxies will help astronomers probe a little-understood, but important period in cosmic history. Their new technique helps probe the time a billion years after the Big Bang, when the early, dark universe was flooded with light from the first galaxies.
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Famous Red Star Betelgeuse is Spinning Faster than Expected; May Have Swallowed a Companion 100,000 Years Ago

Betelgeuse Spins Too Fast; May Have Swallowed Companion in Past

AUSTIN — Astronomer J. Craig Wheeler of The University of Texas at Austin thinks that Betelgeuse, the bright red star marking the shoulder of Orion, the hunter, may have had a past that is more interesting than meets the eye. Working with an international group of undergraduate students, Wheeler has found evidence that the red supergiant star may have been born with a companion star, and later swallowed that star. The research is published today in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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Walter E. Massey and Taft Armandroff Selected to Lead Giant Magellan Telescope Board of Directors

Massey, Armandroff to Lead GMT Board

Pasadena, Calif. — The Giant Magellan Telescope Organization (GMTO) today announced the appointment of Walter E. Massey, PhD, and Taft Armandroff, PhD, to the positions of Board Chair and Vice Chair, respectively.

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Astronomers Discover Rocky Planet Orbiting Nearest Star, Proxima Centauri

Nearest Star, Proxima Centauri, Has a Planet

An international team of astronomers including Michael Endl of The University of Texas at Austin have found clear evidence of a planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Sun. The long-sought new world, called Proxima b, orbits its cool red parent star every 11 days and has a temperature suitable for liquid water to exist on its surface. This rocky world is a little more massive than Earth and is the closest known exoplanet to us — and may be the closest possible abode for life outside our solar system.

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A New Kind of Black Hole, Once a Theory, Now Firmly within Observers’ Sight

A New Kind of Black Hole

AUSTIN — Astronomers Aaron Smith and Volker Bromm of The University of Texas at Austin, working with Avi Loeb of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, have discovered evidence for an unusual kind of black hole born extremely early in the universe. They showed that a recently discovered unusual source of intense radiation is likely powered by a “direct-collapse black hole,” a type of object predicted by theorists more than a decade ago. Their work is published today in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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Texas Astronomer Finds Young 'Super-Neptune,' New Planet Offers Clues to the Origin of Close-in Exoplanets

Young 'Super-Neptune' Offers Clues to Close-in Exoplanets

AUSTIN — A team of astronomers led by Andrew Mann of The University of Texas at Austin has confirmed the existence of a young planet, only 11 million years old, that orbits extremely close to its star (at 0.05 AU), with an orbital period of 5.4 days. Approximately five times the size of Earth, the new planet is a "super-Neptune" and the youngest such planet known. The discovery lends unique insights into the origin of planetary system architectures.

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