University of Texas at Austin

Posts Tagged ‘astronomy’


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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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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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, February 8, 2010

Crunching Ranger’s numbers

Ranger

Ranger

In a world in which small computing devices such as the iPad and its cousins get a lot of attention and what they’re used for is getting smaller (I’ve used more than 140 characters already), it’s good to know there is still room for Big Iron.

Of course, big problems—such as astronomy, energy, biosciences, geosciences and climate—need a big computer with a lot of processing power.

That’s what we’re talking about with the Ranger supercomputer at the Texas Advanced Computing Center.

Some Ranger
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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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Friday, November 14, 2008

Going to a star party

The stars at night are big and bright deep … in West Texas, where McDonald Observatory sits in the Davis Mountains.

My wife and I topped off a trip to Big Bend National Park by attending a Star Party at the observatory on Nov. 8. We had a quick dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Fort Davis and drove the 17 winding miles to the observatory. We knew we were getting close when we saw two white telescope domes basking in the moonlight.

We
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