Linda Hicke, Taft Armandroff, and Bill McRaven
University of Texas System Chancellor Bill McRaven (right) joins McDonald Observatory Director Taft Armandroff and College of Natural Sciences Dean Linda Hicke at McDonald Observatory in July. The retired Navy Admiral began his tenure in January with a deep commitment to Texas and a profound vision for UT. Chancellor McRaven expressed his support for McDonald Observatory, Astronomy, and UT's partnership in the Giant Magellan Telescope.
Some dying stars suffer from ‘irregular heartbeats,’ research led by astronomers at The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Warwick has discovered. The team discovered rapid brightening events — outbursts — in two otherwise normal pulsating white dwarf stars. "It’s the discovery of an entirely new phenomenon," said graduate student Keaton Bell of The University of Texas at Austin. Bell reported the first pulsating white dwarf to show these outbursts, KIC 4552982, in a recent issue of The Astrophysical Journal. more..
University of Texas at Austin astronomers working with NASA’s Kepler mission have helped to discover the first near-Earth-sized planet around a Sun-like star in the “habitable zone,” the range of distances where liquid water could pool on a planet’s surface. They used the university’s McDonald Observatory to help confirm the finding, which has been accepted for publication in The Astronomical Journal. "We are pushing toward Earth 2.0,” McDonald Observatory astronomer Michael Endl said. “This planet is probably the most similar to Earth yet found." more..
The Giant Magellan Telescope Organization (GMTO) announced today that Professor Wendy Freedman is stepping down from the GMTO Board after 12 years as its Chair. She led GMTO from its inception, with seed funding of $500,000 through the recent start of construction, with funding of half-a-billion dollars. Her vision for GMT has brought together an international partnership of eleven institutions from four countries to build a next-generation telescope that will probe deeper into the universe than ever before. Professor Taft Armandroff, Vice-Chair of the GMTO Board and Director of McDonald Observatory at the University of Texas, will lead the GMTO Board until a new Chair is selected. more..