University of Texas at Austin

Archive for the ‘astronomy’ Category


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The White Widow Model: A New Scenario for the Birth of Type Ia Supernovae

Supernova remnant 0509-67.5 was searched for a left-behind partner star without success. (NASA)

Supernova remnant 0509-67.5 was searched for a left-behind partner star without success. (NASA)

J. Craig Wheeler has studied the exploding stars called supernovae for more than four decades. Now he has a new idea on the identity of the “parents” of one of the most important types of supernovae — the Type Ia, those used as “standard candles” in cosmology studies that led to the discovery of dark energy, the mysterious force causing the universe’s expansion to speed up.

Wheeler lays out
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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Making white dwarfs in the desert

The “tongues of dragon flame” captured in this image are the leaked charge that emerges from the Z Machine when it fires. Images courtesy of Sandia National Laboratories.

The “tongues of dragon flame” captured in this image are the leaked charge that emerges from the Z Machine when it fires. Images courtesy of Sandia National Laboratories.

To re-create the surface of a white dwarf star, University of Texas at Austin astronomer Don Winget starts with roughly the electricity needed to power a few TV sets for the evening. He runs that through a ring of big old generators, all pointing inward toward the center of a machine more than 100
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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Revamped Herschel materials bring students closer to history and the stars

Even if you look through the telescope on the roof of Robert Lee Moore Hall in the middle of The University of Texas at Austin campus, it’s hard to feel close to the stars and other celestial objects.

Walk over to the Harry Ransom Center and you can get very close – and yes, even personal – to some of the people who made a science of looking at the skies.

For Mary Kay Hemenway, a research associate and senior lecturer in
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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Research Round Up Fall 2011: New planets, a bigger black hole, more effective solar cells and more

It seems that the only time astronomers at The University of Texas at Austin took a break from finding new planets and bigger black holes during the fall 2011 semester was when university geologists edged in with evidence of a lake under the surface of Saturn’s moon, Europa.

As busy as those researchers were, the semester also brought discoveries in green energy, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, concealed handguns and the relationship between children’s happiness and their parents.

Here’s a look at
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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Texas professors booked on BookTV

Several weeks ago, 10 University of Texas at Austin professors sat down with CSPAN host Peter Slen to talk about their books.

Julia Mickenberg

Julia Mickenberg

Those interviews have started to run on Book-TV, which appears on CSPAN-2 on weekends.

CSPAN is the cable television enterprise that covers the U.S. Congress and offers other public affairs programming. It turns CSPAN-2 over to interviews with non-fiction authors on weekends.

This weekend (Nov. 19-21, 2011) BookTV will feature interviews with three UT Austin professors, following two that appeared last weekend. More
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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Research Roundup Spring 2011: Black holes, subsurface fjords, early mammal brains and more

In the last few months, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin dealt with black holes, dead zones and ice kilometers under the surface of Antarctica.

They found that early mammals evolved bigger brains for the sense of smell. They found that alcohol helps a brain to remember.

They made a carbon “sponge” that could store energy and a $1 biosensing diagnostic device that’s self-powered.

They found that teenagers who don’t fit in are less likely to go for higher education.

To help
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Monday, January 24, 2011

The view from an airborne observatory

NASA's SOFIA observatory flies over the desert north of Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., on a test flight.

NASA’s SOFIA observatory flies over the desert north of Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., on a test flight.

University of Texas at Austin Astronomer Paul Harvey had a seat on one of the first flights of NASA’s new airborne observatory, SOFIA.

That acronym stands for Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy.

The observatory is a Boeing 747-SP aircraft equipped with a 100-inch diameter telescope. It flies at 40,000 feet or so to get above absorption from the water vapor in the atmosphere.

“You get the
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Monday, May 17, 2010

Updated: Research round up: Spring 2010

The northern ice cap of Mars, showing spiral troughs and Chasma Boreale.

The northern ice cap of Mars, showing spiral troughs and Chasma Boreale.

Catch up on University of Texas at Austin research from the spring 2010 semester when these questions were answered.

How were two curious features in the northern ice cap of Mars — a chasm larger than the Grand Canyon and a series of spiral troughs formed?

Jack Holt and Isaac Smith of The University of Texas at Austin’s Institute for Geophysics and their colleagues used radar data collected by NASA’s Mars
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Monday, March 15, 2010

What’s new in the science journals

Elops smithi, a new species of ladyfish. Claudia R. Rocha, a graduate student at the Marine Research Institute, was part of the team making the case for its existence in Zootaxa.

Elops smithi, a new species of ladyfish. Claudia R. Rocha, a graduate student at the Marine Research Institute, was part of the team making the case for its existence in Zootaxa.

Before you can have Further Findings, you have to have findings, or, as my colleagues in the College of Natural Sciences call it, Raw Science.

What that means is that they have posted summaries of research papers involving its faculty and links to the papers.

The first round of research in this
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Friday, December 4, 2009

Principles of science

John Lacy

John Lacy

Scientists arrive at their careers in different ways. Some follow a childhood interest, others are inspired by a teacher or discover a passion in a class they took on a lark and others find they have a talent in a field they hadn’t considered.

Further Findings highlights the paths that some researchers at The University of Texas at Austin took to the laboratory, the library, the field—wherever they do their work.

John Lacy is an astronomy professor and researcher who uses infrared
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