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IfA Astronomer, Keck Observatory Confirm First Kepler K2 Exoplanet Discovery

Despite a malfunction that ended its primary mission in May 2013, NASA’s Kepler spacecraft has discovered a new super-Earth using data collected during its “second life,” known as the K2 mission.

IfA astronomer Christoph Baranec supplied confirming data with his Robo-AO instrument mounted on the Palomar 1.5-meter telescope, and former IfA graduate student Brendan Bowler, now a Joint Center for Planetary Astronomy postdoctoral fellow at Caltech, provided additional confirming observations using the Keck II adaptive optics system on Maunakea.

Press release


New option if you are applying to our Graduate program and already have a master's degree

Applicants who already hold a master's degree from another institution may move in our program to PhD candidacy on an accelerated track. In addition, these students have the option to be based at any of the Institute for Astronomy branches (Mānoa, Maui, or Hilo) immediately upon entering the program. Placement at the IfA-Maui or IfA-Hilo facilities is contingent upon funding for an assistantship, and applicants are encouraged to contact potential research advisors during the admissions process.



Scientists Use Hawaii Observatories to Study an Exotic Object: Ejected Black Hole or Huge Star?

An international team of researchers analyzing decades of observations from many facilities, including the W. M. Keck Observatory on Maunakea and the Pan-STARRS1 telescope on Haleakala, as well as NASA’s Swift satellite, has discovered an unusual source of light in a galaxy some 90 million light-years away. The team was led by Michael Koss, who was a postdoctoral fellow at the IfA during most of the time the study was ongoing.

Press release


UH Astronomer John Tonry Shares $3 Million Breakthrough Prize

IfA astronomer John Tonry has been named a recipient of the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for the discovery that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, rather than slowing as had been long assumed. He shares the award with the other members of the High-Redshift Supernova Search Team and with members of the Supernova Cosmology Project.

Press release


First Observations of the Surfaces of Objects from the Oort Cloud

A team of astronomers let by IfA astronomer Karen Meech are announcing today (November 10) the discovery of two unusual objects in comet-like orbits that originate in the Oort cloud but with almost no activity, giving scientists a first look at their surfaces. These result are particularly intriguing because the surfaces are different from what astronomers expected, and they give us clues about the movement of material in the early solar system as the planets were assembled.

Press release


UH Assumes Ownership of United Kingdom Infrared Telescope

The University of Hawai‘i will today (October 31) assume ownership of the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope (UKIRT) on Maunakea.  UKIRT is one of the world’s leading astronomical infrared observatories. 

Press release


UH provides earthquake-damaged Japanese observatory with dome on Haleakala

A Japanese planetary research observatory was blessed and dedicated on September 8 at Haleakala Observatories on the Hawaiian island of Maui in the presence of about 25 scientists and administrators from the United States and Japan.

Press release


Movie of VERY near Earth Asteroid 2014 RC

On Sunday, September 7, 60-foot-wide (18-meter) asteroid 2014 RC will come within 25,000 miles (40,000 km) of Earth. That's almost as close as some weather and communications satellites in geosynchronous orbits. IfA astronomer David Tholen has generated a movie of 2014 RC. He used the UH 2.2-meter telescope to take 120 exposures during a little over an hour of observing time. At the standard frame rate of 30 frames per second, the movie lasts 4 seconds.



Hawaii Scientist Maps, Names Laniakea, Our Home Supercluster of Galaxies

IfA astronomer R. Brent Tully, who recently shared the 2014 Gruber Cosmology Prize and the 2014 Victor Ambartsumian International Prize, has led an international team of astronomers in defining the contours of the immense supercluster of galaxies containing our own Milky Way. They have named the supercluster “Laniakea,” meaning “immense heaven” in Hawaiian. The paper explaining this work is the cover story of the September 4 issue of the prestigious journal Nature.

Press release


New Astrophysics and Astronomy undergraduate degrees launched

The UH Board of Regents has approved adding two new programs to the UH Mānoa College of Natural Sciences – a BA in Astronomy and a BS in Astrophysics. The programs will be a cooperative effort of the Physics and Astronomy Department and the Institute for Astronomy. The board approved the new programs at its meeting on Thursday, August 21, 2014.



Laser-Wielding Robot Probes Exoplanet Systems

An international team, including IfA's Christoph Baranec , is using the world’s first robotic laser adaptive optics system—Robo-AO— to explore thousands of exoplanet systems (planets around other stars) at resolutions approaching those of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Press release


ATLAS Project on Track to achieve first light by year's end

The ATLAS (Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System) project is coming together well within its budget and timeline. By the end of 2014, Telescope 1 on Mauna Loa should achieve first light. IfA alumnus Brian Stalder has joined the project as a postdoctoral fellow.



Thirty Meter telescope to Begin Construction

Following the approval of a sublease on July 25 by the Hawaii Board of Land and Natural Resources, the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) announced it would begin the initial phase of construction, with activities near the summit of Mauna Kea scheduled to start later this year. Previously, Kahu Ku Mauna and the Mauna Kea Management Board reviewed, and the University of Hawaii Board of Regents recently approved, the proposed TMT sublease. The final approval from the Board of Land and Natural Resources—the last step in the sublease process—allows TMT to begin on-site construction on Maunakea, home to many of the world's premier observatories.

TMT press release


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