NASA, Texas astronomers find first multi-planet system around a binary star

Finding a New Type of Solar System

FORT DAVIS, Texas — NASA's Kepler mission has found the first multi-planet solar system orbiting a binary star, characterized in large part by University of Texas at Austin astronomers using two telescopes at the university's McDonald Observatory in West Texas. The finding, which proves that whole planetary systems can form in a disk around a binary star, is published in today's issue of the journal Science.

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Astronomers Test Einstein in a New Regime Using Pair of Burnt-Out Stars

Testing Einstein in a new Regime with Burnt-Out Stars

AUSTIN, Texas — A team of astronomers led by researchers from The University of Texas at Austin has confirmed the emission of gravitational waves from the second-strongest known source in our galaxy by studying the shrinking orbital period of a unique pair of burnt-out stars. Their observations tested Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity in a new regime. The results will be published soon in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

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Eiichiro Komatsu shares $500,000 Gruber Cosmology Prize with WMAP satellite team, for fundamental discoveries on the age, make-up, shape, and origin of the universe

Komatsu shares $500,000 Gruber Cosmology Prize with WMAP team

New York, N.Y. — The Gruber Foundation and the International Astronomical Union recently announced that the members of the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) team, including University of Texas at Austin professor Eiichiro Komatsu, are the recipients of the 2012 Gruber Cosmology Prize. Komatsu is the director of the university's Texas Cosmology Center.

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High School Students Explore Astronomical Research, Social Media at McDonald Observatory

Students Explore Research, Social Media at Observatory

FORT DAVIS — Ten high school students are spending the week at McDonald Observatory learning to use telescopes to support a study of one of the biggest mysteries in science today: dark energy. They are also sharing their experiences using social media.

Astronomers Probe 'Evaporating' Planet Around Nearby Star with Hobby-Eberly Telescope

Probing an 'Evaporating' Planet with HET

FORT DAVIS, Texas — Astronomers from The University of Texas at Austin and Wesleyan University have used the Hobby-Eberly Telescope at UT Austin’s McDonald Observatory to confirm that a Jupiter-size planet in a nearby solar system is dissolving, albeit excruciatingly slowly, because of interactions with its parent star. Their findings could help astronomers better understand star-planet interactions in other star systems that might involve life.

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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.

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