The Future of Exoplanet Science at McDonald Observatory


Paul Robertson

Penn State University

host: Greg Mace

Tues., Oct. 25, 3:30 PM · RLM 15.216B

Colloquia Schedule

Vacuum cryostat chamber of the Habitable-zone Planet Finder (at rear)

"With the imminent arrivals of the Habitable-zone Planet Finder (HPF) and the upgraded High Resolution Spectrometer (HRS) and, later, the Giant Magellan Telescope, McDonald Observatory is well equipped to lead the field of observational exoplanet science in the coming decades."

Astronomers find giant planet around very young star Cl Tauri

A team of astronomers from Rice, Lowell Observatory, the University of Texas, and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory have discovered a giant planet in an environment that upends conventional wisdom, an intact circumstellar disk around a very young star.

Astronomy Now

Astronomers find giant planet around very young star Cl Tauri

Public Viewing Austin

RLM Hall 16" Telescope

Painter Hall 9" Telescope


Skywatcher's Report

McDonald Observatory's

Ask an Astronomer

Meeting Rooms




artist's conception

Astronomers Discover Rocky Planet Orbiting Nearest Star, Proxima Centauri

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. The research will be published in the journal Nature on Aug 25. more..

dark matter filaments simulation

A New Species of Black Hole, "Direct-Collapse", Once a Theory, Now Firmly within Observers’ Sight

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. more..

Texas Astronomer Finds Youngest 'Super-Neptune'

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. 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..

19 October 2016
Astronomy Program · The University of Texas at Austin
prospective student inquiries:
site comments: · web accessibility policy · web privacy policy