News

A Young Sub-Neptune-sized Planet Sheds Light onto How Planets Form and Evolve

A team of astronomers including McDonald Observatory’s Bill Cochran have made a detailed study of a young planet slightly smaller than Neptune with the Habitable-zone…

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Studying Radioactive Aluminum in Solar Systems Unlocks Formation Secrets

An international team of astronomers including Stella Offner of The University of Texas at Austin has proposed a new method for the formation of aluminum-26…

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Arizona Rock Core Sheds Light on Triassic Dark Ages

A rock core from Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona, has given scientists a powerful new tool to understand how catastrophic events shaped Earth’s ecosystems before…

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Dinosaur-dooming asteroid struck Earth at ‘deadliest possible’ angle

New simulations from Imperial College London have revealed the asteroid that doomed the dinosaurs struck Earth at the ‘deadliest possible’ angle.

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Exploring the Possibility of Life on Other Planets

Announcing the Center for Planetary Systems Habitability, a new cross-campus, interdisciplinary research unit at The University of Texas at Austin.

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Planet Finder Validates Its First Habitable-Zone Exoplanet, a Mini Neptune

Astronomers have validated their first exoplanet with the Habitable Zone Planet Finder instrument on the Hobby-Eberly Telescope, one of the world’s largest telescopes, located at The University of Texas at Austin’s McDonald Observatory.

About twice the size of Earth and possibly 12 times as massive, the planet could be similar to Neptune, but in miniature. Called G 9-40b, it orbits a small star called a red dwarf about 100 light-years from Earth. It completes a full orbit every six Earth days.

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Texas Astronomer Helps NASA Planet Hunter Find its First Earth-Sized, Habitable-Zone World

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has discovered its first Earth-size planet in its star’s habitable zone, the range of distances where conditions may be just right to allow the presence of liquid water on the surface. A team of scientists, including Andrew Vanderburg of The University of Texas at Austin, confirmed the find, called TOI 700 d, using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and have modeled the planet’s potential environments to help inform future observations.

TOI 700 d is one of only a few Earth-size planets discovered in a star’s habitable zone so far. Others include several planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system and other worlds discovered by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope.

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Rocks at Asteroid Impact Site Record First Day of Dinosaur Extinction

When the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs slammed into the planet, the impact set wildfires, triggered tsunamis and blasted so much sulfur into the atmosphere that it blocked the sun, which caused the global cooling that ultimately doomed the dinos.

That’s the scenario scientists have hypothesized. Now, a new study led by The University of Texas at Austin has confirmed it by finding hard evidence in the hundreds of feet of rocks that filled the impact crater within the first 24 hours after impact.

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Texas Engineering Hosts U.S. Army ‘Mad Scientist’ Conference

Bringing together experts in areas ranging from robotics to space, the Cockrell School of Engineering will host the U.S. Army’s annual Mad Scientist Conference on April 24-25 in the school’s Engineering Education and Research Center. The two-day event explored the individual and convergent impacts of technological innovations on the future of military operations, from present day through 2050.

Topics will include artificial intelligence and autonomy, robotics, the future of space, planetary habitability and the legal and ethical dilemmas surrounding how technological advances in these areas will impact our future, particularly in relation to land and space domains.

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