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For most of their lives, galaxies are lush environments for turning gas into stars. Until they aren’t. Over the last few billion years, a mysterious kind of “galactic warming” has turned huge numbers of galaxies into deserts devoid of fresh young stars. The puzzle for astronomers has been identifying the unknown process that keeps the gas in these dormant galaxies too hot and energetic to form stars. Today, astronomers from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), including Dr. Niv Drory of The University of Texas at Austin, are announcing the discovery of a new class of galaxies called "red geysers" that harbor supermassive black holes with winds that have the power to keep dormant galaxies quiet. more..
AUSTIN — Astronomer Brendan Bowler of The University of Texas at Austin has been awarded a competitive Hubble Fellowship from NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), science center for the Hubble Space Telescope. "I congratulate Brendan Bowler on winning one of the most prestigious fellowships in astronomy to continue his work at McDonald Observatory," said Taft Armandroff, the observatory's director. Hubble Fellows conduct research related to the mission of NASA’s Cosmic Origins Program, which aims to examine the origins of galaxies, stars, and planetary systems, and the evolution of these structures with cosmic time. more..
AUSTIN — A team of astronomers led by The University of Texas at Austin's Howie Marion has detected a flash of light from the companion to an exploding star. This is the first time astronomers have witnessed the impact of an exploding star on its neighbor. It provides the best evidence on the type of binary star system that leads to Type Ia supernovae. This study reveals the circumstances for the violent death of some white dwarf stars and provides deeper understanding for their use as tools to trace the history of the expansion of the universe. These types of stellar explosions enabled the discovery of dark energy, the universe’s accelerating expansion that is one of the top problems in science today. The work is published today in The Astrophysical Journal. more..