What can Binaries tell us about Planet Formation?


Kaitlin Kratter

Steward Observatory

host: Adam Kraus

Tues., May 3, 3:30 PM · RLM 15.216B

Full Schedule


LIGO Gravitational Wave Detection

A century ago, when Einstein published the theory that gravitational events create ripples in space-time like waves on a pond, we didn't know that we live in a galaxy, that there are galaxies other than the milky way, that the universe is expanding, or that black holes exist.

Professor J. Craig Wheeler, a specialist in extreme astrophysics, gives a rare insider's context to the LIGO detection in an interview with Ellen Airhart, of The Daily Texan, UT Austin's student newspaper. The 40-year LIGO project required astonishing steps in engineering, the advancement of microchips, and the application of complex equations in super-computing environments. The remarkable tale of perseverance has a Texas chapter.

The interview, below, begins at 2:45.

The gravitational wave chirp:

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dr. brendan bowler

Brendan Bowler Wins Hubble Fellowship

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..

First Discovery of a Binary Companion for a Type Ia Supernova

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..


Newly Discovered Planet in the Hyades Cluster Could Shed Light on Planetary Evolution

AUSTIN — University of Texas at Austin astronomer Andrew Mann and colleagues have discovered a planet in a nearby star cluster which could help astronomers better understand how planets form and evolve. The discovery of planet K2-25b used both the Kepler space telescope and the university’s McDonald Observatory, and is published in a recent issue of the Astrophysical Journal. The star is located in the Hyades star cluster, the closest open star cluster to Earth. more..

Frank N. Bash Visitor's Center

McDonald Observatory in West Texas welcomes the public with star parties, tours, exhibits, talks, special programs, and continuing education for teachers. Join us! in the beautiful Davis Mountains under some of the darkest skies in the continental United States.


The Hobby-Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment will look back in time billions of years, and sample nearly one million galaxies, to map the expansion rate of the early universe. Learn more at

Giant Magellan Telescope

The University of Texas at Austin is a founding member of the consortium to build the world's largest ground based telescope at Las Campanas Observatory in La Serena, Chile. Construction is well under way. Learn more..

27 April 2016
Astronomy Program · The University of Texas at Austin
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