Astronomy Program News & Events

see also: McDonald Observatory press room / archive

2016  |  2015  |  2014  |  2013  |  2012  |  2011  |  2010  |  2009  |  2008  |  2007  |  2006  |  2005  |  2004  |  2003  |  2002


Texas Cosmology Network Meeting: September 14-15

27 July 2006

The first Texas Cosmology Network Meeting will be held September 14-15, in the Eastwoods Room (2.102) at the Texas Union. (map) The meeting will bring together first-rank active cosmologists from the universities within Texas to discuss important topics and future directions in Cosmology, such as the Dark Energy problem. To stimulate frequent interaction between Texan cosmologists, the event will also establish the Texas Cosmology Network. The meeting is organized by the departments of Astronomy and Physics.

Dark Energy, String Theory Featured as Faculty Grows at Texas A&M

The Houston Chronicle

2 July 2006

College Station, TX --For years, the Becker sisters shared their physics research in string theory, but not an address. Melanie worked at the University of Maryland while Katrin toiled at the University of Utah. They expected to spend their careers separated by states. And then Texas A&M University offered the up-and-coming scholars something no other place had: each other. The school wanted the Beckers for an emerging institute specializing in their branch of physics.

Remarkable Flow of Data from CTI-II at McDonald Will Serve a Broad Community

University of New Mexico Press Release

21 May 2006

Albuquerque, NM --Astronomers at the University of New Mexico are developing an exciting new telescope with capabilities that are unrivaled in astronomy circles. The CCD/Transit Instrument with Innovative Instrumentation, or CTI-II, is a special-purpose telescope where accuracy and precision are the key components allowing for unprecedented research opportunities. The ground-based telescope does not move to survey the sky, a feature that allows for more precise measurements of brightness and position.

Beth Fernandez, Robert Quimby and Lucas Cieza Awarded Fellowships for 2006-2007

30 May 2006

Graduate Astronomy students Beth Fernandez and Robert Quimby have won, respectively, a Continuing University Fellowship and a University Tuition Fellowship for 2006-2007. Having been previously awarded the William S. Livingston Graduate Fellowship, Lucas Cieza will instead receive the Donald D. Harrington Fellowship, among the most prestigious fellowships available to graduate students at the University of Texas. Lucas is also the recipient of the 2006 William S. Livingston Outstanding Graduate Student Academic Employee Award.

Extrasolar Planet Discovery by Diverse Group of Professional and Amateur Astronomers Confirmed with HET

Boston University Press Release

18 May 2006

Boston, MA --An international team of professional and amateur astronomers, using simple off-the-shelf equipment to trawl the skies for planets outside our solar system, has hauled in its first "catch." The astronomers discovered a Jupiter-sized planet orbiting a Sun-like star 600 light-years from Earth in the constellation Corona Borealis.

VLBA/HET Confirm Tightest Pair of Supermassive Black Holes

National Radio Astronomy Observatory Press Release

2 May 2006

Socorro, NM --Astronomers using the National Science Foundation's Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) radio telescope have found the closest pair of supermassive black holes ever discovered in the Universe -- a duo of monsters that together are more than 150 million times more massive than the Sun and closer together than the Earth and the bright star Vega. "These two giant black holes are only about 24 light-years apart, and that's more than 100 times closer than any pair found before," said Cristina Rodriguez, of the University of New Mexico (UNM) and Simon Bolivar University in Venezuela.

Department of Astronomy Award Winners: Kyle Penner, Chad Gardner, Justin Lowrey and Douglas Steimle

2 May 2006

The Undergraduate Studies Executive Committee has announced the winners of four Department of Astronomy Awards. The Karl G. Henize endowed scholarship, for excellent academic performance, goes to Kyle Penner. For excellent overall performance, the Board of Visitors (BoV) scholarship is awarded to Chad Gardner. The Outstanding Senior Award, recognizing outstanding overall performance, is awarded to Justin Lowrey. The Astronomy Freshman Prize for Excellence is awarded to Douglas Steimle.

Public Lecture in Physics: "Emergence of Order in Physical, Chemical, and Biological Systems"

26 April 2006

The Department of Physics holds the second lecture in the Modern Development of Physics Lecture Series Friday, April 28 at 7:30 PM at the Joe C. Thompson Conference Center, Room 1.110 (map). Professor Harry Swinney, Sid W. Richardson Foundation Regents Chair in Physics, will deliver the talk, "Emergence of Order in Physical, Chemical, and Biological Systems". Professor Sweeney will discuss how recognizable patterns in nature, though formed in vastly different systems, can sometimes be understood from a common approach. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Astronomy Undergrads Use Research Opportunities; Additional Funding Still Available

13 April 2006

Four Astronomy Undergraduates recently presented research at the College of Natural Sciences Undergraduate Research Forum 2006. Liz Hill-Aiello, Ashley Davis, Ross Falcon and Kyle Penner found opportunities with Astronomy Department researchers studying black holes, galaxy mergers and the local interstellar medium. Undergraduate students are encouraged to explore the opportunites and funding still available.

UT Physics Launches Lecture Series to Celebrate 1905, Einstein's Miracle Year

8 February 2006

Prof. Steven Weinberg will deliver the first public talk of the Modern Development of Physics Lecture Series, "Much Ado About Nothing--How the Energy of Empty Space Became a Central Concern of Today's Physics and Cosmology," Wednesday, February 15, at 7:30 PM, in Room 1.110 of the Joe C. Thompson Conference Center (map). Albert Einstein wrote five articles in 1905 that are the cornerstone of modern physics. To recognize the centennial of Einstein's productive year, the United Nations designated 2005 "The World Year of Physics".

Public Lecture: The Unraveling of Powerful Cosmic Explosions

30 January 2006

Prof. Pawan Kumar will present the public lecture "The Unraveling of Powerful Cosmic Explosions," Saturday, February 4, 2006, at 1:00 PM, in ACES 2.302. Prof. Kumar will discuss recent observations of Gamma-ray Bursts, astoundingly powerful, and until just recently, mysterious explosions that are detected on a daily basis, randomly throughout the sky. The public talk is part of the Great Lectures in Astronomy series, sponsored by the Department of Astronomy and McDonald Observatory Board of Visitors.

Innovative Search Technique Suggests New Era for Planet Detection

Penn State Press Release

26 January 2006

A team of scientists, including two Penn State astronomers, have used an innovative new technique to discover a Jupiter-sized planet orbiting a nearby star. The planet initially was detected using an instrument called the Exoplanet Tracker (ET) and may herald an era where the searches for such planets will become much more efficient. The discovery was announced at the recent meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington, D.C.