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       News & Events from the IfA

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July 27, 2021: UH Astronomers Discover Closest Imaged Exoplanet to Earth

Astronomers have discovered thousands of exoplanets - planets beyond our solar system - but few have been directly imaged, because they are extremely difficult to see with existing telescopes. An IfA graduate student has beaten the odds and discovered a directly imaged exoplanet, and it's the closest one to Earth ever found, at a distance of only 35 light years. Using the COol Companions ON Ultrawide orbiTS (COCONUTS) survey, IfA graduate student Zhoujian Zhang and a team of astronomers, identified a planet about six times the mass of Jupiter.

News Story

 

July 14, 2021: UH astronomers discover 'double-bubble' solar eruption during 2020 eclipse

A new study by IfA astronomers investigates a unique solar magnetic eruption observed during the 2020 total solar eclipse from Argentina. The team found that a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) had occurred serendipitously during the brief time that the Moon blocked out the Sun over South America, which is analyzed in the new study in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

News Story

 

June 23, 2021: Asteroids named after UH astronomers

Naming asteroids is serious business. In the latest batch of officially named asteroids, five have been given names honoring astronomers at the IfA. These five new designations join a cornucopia of at least 40 asteroids named after current and former IfA astronomers, students, staff and other individuals.

News Story

 

June 15, 2021: IfA students receive research, teaching accolades

Graduate students at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Institute for Astronomy (IfA) are raking in recognition for their excellence in research and teaching. Five IfA students earned a wide range of awards in June 2021, many including scholarships and fellowships.

News Story

 

June 8, 2021: UH astronomers play key role in planetary defense

From working to determine if other planets can support life to monitoring the skies for hazardous asteroids and comets, the IfA remains at the forefront of cutting edge space science. Our Pan-STARRS1 telescope on Haleakalā is the world leader in finding larger Near-Earth Objects that could pose a threat to the planet.

News Story

 

June 7, 2021: Lunar eclipse aids in locating 3 Near-Earth asteroids

Every night, the University of Hawaiʻi Pan-STARRS telescopes on Hakeakalā scan the sky for Near-Earth Objects (NEOs), asteroids or comets that may come close to or even hit Earth in the future. The search is funded by NASA's Near-Earth Object Observations Program. On May 26, astronomers raced against a brief 60-minute window during the lunar eclipse to search for faint NEOs. They pinpointed three to the northwest of the eclipsed Moon. One of them, an asteroid about the size of 1½ football fields, hadn't been seen since 2001.

News Story

 

May 28, 2021: IfA's Super Blood Moon broadcast nets gazers world wide

On May 26, Hawaiʻi enjoyed prime viewing of a total lunar eclipse–when the Earth comes between the Sun and the full Moon. The IfA hosted a livestream of the celestial wonder, which drew more than a thousand viewers from around the world, including Hawaiʻi and the continental U.S.

News Story

 

May 26, 2021: 30-year stellar survey cracks mysteries of galaxy's giant planets

Current and former astronomers from the IfA have wrapped up a massive collaborative study that set out to determine if most solar systems in the universe are similar to our own. The 30-year Hawaiʻi-based planetary census sought to find where giant planets tend to reside relative to their host stars.

News Story

 

May 24, 2021: UH to lead NASA space telescope study on nature of dying stars

How do stars die, explode and release heavy elements into the universe? These questions are the focus of an international team of scientists led by IfA postdoctoral researcher Chris Ashall. The researchers were recently awarded two programs to conduct detailed observations with NASA's $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) flagship mission, set to launch in fall 2021.

News Story

 

May 14, 2021: Award-winning science TV show features UH astronomer, local students

The award-winning television show, Xploration Awesome Planet will feature IfA education and outreach specialis, J.D. Armstrong and his students on Saturday, May 15, at 2:30 p.m. on KHON. The Earth science series, which airs on FOX channels nationwide, will showcase Armstrong and three of his students who are part of our HI-STAR mentorship program.

News Story

 

April 27, 2021: Kalani senior's astronomy research proposal shines

The phrase "out-of-this-world" has taken on a whole new meaning for Ashley Kaya. The Kalani High School senior is interested in searching for signs of an Earth-like planet within Perseus, a constellation that looks like a hunter in the northern sky. Guided by mentors at the IfA, Kaya's ambitious proposal captured the attention of Maunakea Scholars, an innovative program designed to award local students observing time on world-class telescopes.

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April 22, 2021: Award winning student inspired by IfA's 'passion for astronomy'

Fourteen-year-old Anica Ancheta is off to a running start in her pursuit to study the complex cosmos. Guided by the IfA, Ancheta's research on active galactic nuclei (AGN) earned her four exemplary awards at the 2021 Maui County District Science and Engineering Fair.

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April 21, 2021: A novel optical physics method to measure the expansion of the universe

A team of researchers from the University of Michigan and the UH Institute of Astronomy are suggesting a new way to use quasars to measure the expansion of the universe directly. They propose a method called intensity correlation speckles to measure the difference between the redshift - in which light stretches as it travels through an expanding universe, causing its wavelength to elongate - in two paths of light from the same quasar.

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April 19, 2021: UH astronomers to help map first galaxies in the universe

IfA astronomers will play an instrumental role in helping unveil the universe's very first galaxies, more than 13 billion light years away. On Monday, April 19, NASA announced the first suite of science programs for its groundbreaking James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), set to launch in October 2021. The IfA researchers are part of the "COSMOS-Webb" project, which will be the largest guest observer program in JWST's first year of operation.

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April 15, 2021: Simons shares vision for future as astronomy institute director

The incoming director of the IfA, Doug Simons has a set of priorities that he calls the "three pillars" - ramping up research, expanding technology development and retaining IfA's world-class education. Simons' appointment as the leader of one of the world's premier astronomy programs became official at the Board of Regents April 15 meeting.

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April 12, 2021: Doug Simons named new director for UH Institute for Astronomy

Veteran Hawaiʻi Island astronomer Doug Simons has been selected as the next director of the IfA, effective September 1, 2021. Simons has worked on Maunakea since 1990 after he earned his PhD from IfA and has served as the Canada-France-Hawaiʻi Telescope executive director since 2012 and was the Gemini Observatory director from 2006-2011.

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April 9, 2021: In memoriam: Chad Kālepa Baybayan

The University of Hawaiʻi community is mourning the loss of highly respected, deep-sea voyaging canoe Hōkūleʻa captain Chad Kālepa Baybayan, who served as a navigator-in-residence at the ʻImiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaiʻi.

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March 17, 2021: Maunakea telescope playing vital role in tracking large asteroid flyby

An asteroid that is estimated to be as large as the Golden Gate Bridge will make a close pass by Earth on March 21 when it is about 1.25 million miles (2 million kilometers) away or about five times the distance of the Moon. Astronomers on Maunakea are using the opportunity to improve their tracking of hazardous objects that threaten the planet. The IfA-operated Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) on the summit will be used to closely analyze the characteristics of asteroid 2001 FO32 as it passes Earth.

Press Release

 

Feb. 10, 2021: 'Farfarout'! Solar system's most distant planetoid confirmed

A team, including Dave Tholen from the IfA, have confirmed a planetoid that is almost four times farther from the Sun than Pluto, making it the most distant object ever observed in our solar system. The planetoid, nicknamed "Farfarout," was first detected in 2018, and the team has now collected enough observations to pin down the orbit. The Minor Planet Center has now given it the official designation of 2018 AG37.

Press Release

 

Jan. 12, 2021: UH graduate student discovers long-sought 'Old Faithful' active galaxy

The centers of galaxies with actively feeding supermassive black holes are already astounding environments. Now, a team of researchers led by a graduate student from the IfA has found an even more interesting oddball. Feeding black holes typically increase and decrease in brightness similar to the Kilauea volcano, becoming more or less active over time in unpredictable ways. However, the newly discovered black hole is more like Old Faithful geyser at Yellowstone National Park, erupting repeatedly at predictable times.

Press Release

 

Jan. 11, 2021: A Rocky Planet Around One of Our Galaxy's Oldest Stars

Almost all of the planets discovered to date (including the solar system planets) are confined to the plane of the Milky Way, unable to glimpse such a sweeping vista of our galaxy. However, astronomers at the IfA, using the W. M. Keck Observatory on Maunakea, have discovered a rocky planet with a different kind of view.

Press Release

 

Jan. 11, 2021: UH Astronomers Find Evidence for Planets Shrinking Over Billions of Years

A team of astronomers led by IfA graduate student Travis Berger has shown that an intriguing class of Neptune-sized planets shrinks over billions of years.

Press Release

 

Nov. 23, 2020: Lunar companion; 2nd minimoon discovered

Earth is orbited by thousands of artificial satellites, but only one large, natural Moon. Eight years ago, researchers at the IfA predicted that there must be a population of small, natural 'minimoons' that temporarily orbit Earth. On November 22, a team of 23 researchers from 14 academic institutions announced a study on the second minimoon ever discovered, dubbed 2020 CD3.

Press Release

 

Nov. 19, 2020: $5M award aids search for a 'recipe' for habitable worlds

To trace the volatile elements that form the atmospheres of planets, NASA's Astrobiology Program awarded a five-year, $5-million grant to an interdisciplinary consortium, including researchers at the University of Hawaiʻi. The award will help establish a scientific foundation for detecting the signatures of life on other worlds.

Press Release

 

Nov. 16, 2020: Pan-STARRS detects 1960s-era rocket booster orbiting Sun

Earth has captured a tiny object from its orbit about the Sun and will keep it as a temporary satellite for a few months before it escapes. But the object is not an asteroid; it's likely an upper stage booster rocket that helped lift NASA's ill-fated Surveyor 2 spacecraft toward the Moon in 1966. Our Pan-STARRS1 telescope atop Haleakalā spotted the object in September 2020.

Press Release

 

Nov. 9, 2020: Maunakea Telescopes Confirm First Super-Planet Discovered by Radio Observations

A collaboration between the LOw Frequency ARray (LOFAR) radio telescope in Europe and two telescopes on the summit of Maunakea, the Gemini Observatory and the NASA InfraRed Telescope Facility (IRTF), has led to the first direct discovery of a cold brown dwarf from its radio emission. In addition to demonstrating a new way for future brown dwarf discoveries, this result is an important step towards applying radio astronomy to the exciting field of exoplanets.

Press Release

 

Oct. 26, 2020: UFO spotted over Hawaiʻi likely spent rocket

Thousands were mesmerized by a mysterious flurry of lights that appeared to float above Hawaiʻi's evening sky on Saturday, October 24. Photos and videos of the string of lights flooded social media, leaving many to believe the sighting could be anything from a spaceship carrying extra terrestrials to a meteor shower. IfA astronomer Richard Wainscoat believes onlookers witnessed the reentry of a spent rocket booster used to launch Venezualan satellite, Venesat-1, back in 2008.

Press Release

 

Oct. 26, 2020: Massive asteroid Apophis subject of new findings

IfA astronomer David Tholen and his team have revealed critical new findings linked to a large asteroid expected to pass extremely close to Earth. They announced the detection of Yarkovsky acceleration on the near-Earth asteroid Apophis. This acceleration arises from an extremely weak force on an object due to non-uniform thermal radiation. This force is particularly important for the asteroid Apophis, as it affects the probability of an Earth impact in 2068.

Press Release

 

Oct. 20, 2020: Finalists for Institute for Astronomy director announced

Three finalists have been identified for the position of IfA director. The finalists are each scheduled for virtual visits over a three-day period with participants on the islands of Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi and Maui. The visits include: department discussions; meetings with senior administrators, faculty, staff, students and internal and external constituents; and a public presentation. The finalist are:
Laura Ferrarese, Principal Research Officer at Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Centre (and former Director, Gemini Observatory)
Kenneth Chambers, Astronomer and Director, Pan STARRS Observatory, IfA
Douglas Simons, Executive Director, Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope

Press Release and Visit Details

 

Oct. 8, 2020: Astronomers produce largest 3D catalog of galaxies

A team of astronomers at the IfA has produced the world's largest three-dimensional astronomical imaging catalog of stars, galaxies and quasars. The team used data from the Pan-STARRS1 (PS1) telescope on Haleakalā. IfA astronomers applied novel computational tools to the catalog, to decipher which of the 3 billion objects are stars, galaxies or quasars. For the galaxies, the software also derived estimates of their distances. The resulting 3D catalog is now available as a high-level science product through the Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes.

Press Release

 

Oct. 5, 2020: UH astronomers develop new mirror technology, grow green industry

Large reflecting mirrors lie at the heart of the world's most powerful telescopes that observe distant galaxies, stars and planets. A company formed by University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Institute for Astronomy (IfA) scientists and students through UH's innovation incubator has demonstrated a new way to shape thin mirror surfaces using high-power lasers.

Press Release

 

Sept. 28, 2020: UH-built infrared upgrade to Maunakea telescope goes live

An innovative new instrument built by a team at the IfA, Caltech and W.M. Keck Observatory provides adaptive optics (AO) correction using objects invisible to the naked eye. The AO system includes an innovative infrared pyramid wavefront sensor that can detect exoplanets and young dwarf stars where planet formation commonly occurs.

Press Release

 

Sept. 25, 2020: UH astronomers to construct 3D map of Milky Way galaxy

What does our own galaxy look like? It's hard to tell because we are inside. A new project, led by IfA astronomer Dan Huber, will change that. Huber and his team are planning to create the largest 3D map ever constructed of stars in the outer regions of the Milky Way, with a new grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Press Release

 

Sept. 21, 2020: Astronomy at UH plays key role in 30 years of NSF instrumentation funding

For more than three decades, technology development at the IfA has been a prime mover in federally funded astronomy programs, according to a study published in the Journal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments, and Systems. The authors tracked the impact of National Science Foundation (NSF) grants for astronomy technology and instrumentation development over the last 30 years.

Press Release

 

Sept. 11, 2020: IfA Alumnus Jeff Rich Appearing on Jeopardy!

IfA alumnus Jeff Rich has checked off a big bucket list item. Rich, who earned a PhD in astronomy in 2012 will appear on the season premiere of hit TV game show Jeopardy! on Monday, September 14

Press Release

 

Sept. 2, 2020: UH Mānoa researchers predict location of novel candidate for mysterious dark energy

Astronomers have known for two decades that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, but the physics of this expansion remains a mystery. Now, a team of researchers at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa have made a novel prediction - the dark energy responsible for this accelerating growth comes from a vast sea of compact objects spread throughout the voids between galaxies. This conclusion is part of a new study published in The Astrophysical Journal.

Press Release

 

August 28, 2020: Maui teens track space satellite plummeting to Earth

Astronomers have known for two decades that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, but the physics of this expansion remains a mystery. Now, a team of researchers at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa have made a novel prediction—the dark energy responsible for this accelerating growth comes from a vast sea of compact objects spread throughout the voids between galaxies. This conclusion is part of a new study published in The Astrophysical Journal.Two Maui middle schoolers spotted a 250-pound space satellite projected to re-enter Earth's atmosphere on Saturday, August 29. Scientists expect the inoperative satellite, OGO-1, to break up over the South Pacific, away from inhabited areas at around 10:45 a.m. HST.

Press Release

 

August 11, 2020: UH astronomers cast world-wide 'net' of telescopes to catch mysterious fading stars

University of Hawaiʻi scientists are leading one of the newly announced Key Projects on a worldwide network of telescopes called the Las Cumbres Observatory (LCO) global telescope network. Using thousands of hours of observing time, they will investigate the neighborhoods of young stars where planets are thought to be forming.

Press Release

 

August 4, 2020: Hawaiʻi students track asteroid as it passes near Earth

On July 20, our Pan-STARRS1 telescope discovered an asteroid 65 feet in diameter that appeared likely to pass close to Earth. Some of the first follow-up images of the approaching asteroid were taken by Hawaiʻi high school students participating in the IfA's HI STAR program, using telescopes from the Las Cumbres Observatory (LCO) global telescope network.

Press Release

 

July 24, 2020: Asteroid discovered by UH telescope will make close pass Monday

An asteroid discovered on July 20 by the University of Hawaiʻi's Pan-STARRS1 telescope atop Haleakalā will make a close pass of Earth on Monday, July 27. At its closest point, the asteroid will be only about 1.7 times the distance of the Moon.

Press Release

 

July 15, 2020: Major research leap for UH88 telescope with robotic upgrade

A team of astronomers at the University of Hawaiʻi was awarded a $1 million grant to upgrade the UH 2.2-meter telescope on Maunakea, giving the mountain's first large telescope a leg up on its larger, newer neighbors, with more nimble, streamlined operations.

Press Release

 

July 10, 2020: Astronomers map massive structure beyond Laniakea Supercluster

For the past decade, an international team of astronomers, led in part by Brent Tully at the University of Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy, has been mapping the distribution of galaxies around the Milky Way. They have discovered an immense structure beyond Laniakea, an immense supercluster of galaxies, including our own. Astronomers have dubbed the newly identified structure the South Pole Wall.

Press Release

 

June 30, 2020: United Nations News highlights our ATLAS project for Asteroid Day

June 30th is Asteroid Day, marking the anniversary of the 1908 Tunguska impact which leveled trees and destroyed forests across 770 square miles of Siberia. IfA's Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) is featured in today's United Nations News, as "Earth's last Defence" against asteroids.

UN News Story & Interview

 

June 26, 2020: Maunakea's first large telescope celebrates 50 years of science

The University of Hawaiʻi's 88-inch telescope is celebrating its Golden Anniversary on June 26th. Often called the UH88, the telescope was dedicated on this date in 1970, beginning decades of incredible scientific output, and ushering in an era of unparalleled astronomy from Maunakea. Now, 50 years later, the observatory continues to modernize and pave the way for others.

Press Release

 

June 24, 2020: Infant planet discovered by UH astronomers, Maunakea telescope

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa astronomers are part of an international team that recently discovered an infant planet around a nearby young star. The discovery was reported today in the international journal Nature. The planet is about the size of Neptune, but, unlike Neptune, it is much closer to its star, taking only eight and a half days to complete one orbit. It is named "AU Mic b" after its host star, AU Microscopii.

Press Release

 

June 4, 2020: UH astronomers unveil the magnetic field of the solar corona

While the world has been dealing with the corona-virus pandemic, researchers at the University of Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy (IfA) have been hard at work studying the solar corona, the outermost atmosphere of the Sun which expands into interplanetary space. A new study by IfA graduate student Benjamin Boe used total solar eclipse observations to measure the shape of the coronal magnetic field with higher spatial resolution and over a larger area than ever before.

Press Release

 

May 26, 2020: Astronomers recategorize asteroid-like comet detected by UH ATLAS telescope

Recently discovered object 2019 LD2, originally believed to be the first cometary “Jupiter Trojan” asteroid by astronomers at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Institute for Astronomy turns out to be an interloper comet masquerading as a member of the Trojan population.

Press Release

 

May 20, 2020: UH ATLAS telescope discovers first-of-its-kind asteroid

Asteroids and comets are often thought of as distinct types of small bodies, but astronomers have discovered an increasing number of "crossovers." These objects initially appear to be asteroids, and later develop activity, such as tails, that are typical of comets. The University of Hawaiʻi's Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) is now behind the discovery of the first known Jupiter Trojan asteroid to have sprouted a comet-like tail.

Press Release

 

May 19, 2020: UH REU student helps reveal how galaxies and black holes grow together

Over the past two decades, astronomers have concluded that most, if not all, galaxies host massive black holes at their centers - and the masses of a black hole and its host galaxy are correlated. But how are the two connected? Now, a student participating in the IfA Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program, may have revealed part of the answer.

Press Release

 

May 19, 2020: UH astronomers help confirm existence of 2 newborn planets

New evidence shows the first-ever pictures capturing the birth of a pair of planets orbiting the star PDS 70 are in fact authentic. Astronomers from the IfA were part of a Caltech-led team that used a new infrared pyramid wavefront sensor for adaptive optics (AO) correction at W. M. Keck Observatory on Maunakea. The team applied a new method of taking family photos of the baby planets ("protoplanets") and confirmed their existence.

Press Release

 

May 15, 2020: UH astronomy grad student wins science writing award

Ellis Avallone, a second-year graduate student at the IfA has received the 2020 American Astronomical Society (AAS) Solar Physics Division Popular Writing Award. She explained the role of the Sun's rotation rate during the formation of the solar system.

Press Release

 

May 13, 2020: UH astronomers decipher rhythm among young stars

By "listening" to the beating hearts of stars, an international team of astronomers including researchers from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa detected a rhythm of life for a class of stellar objects that puzzled scientists until now.

Press Release

 

May 12, 2020: Jupiter's `jack-o-lantern' glow captured with UH-built instrument

A team of researchers recently released some of the sharpest images of Jupiter ever taken from the ground. Images captured with the Gemini North telescope on Maunakea help reveal how the planet's massive storms form and confirm dark spots in its famous Great Red Spot are gaps not a variation in cloud color. Some of the key observations in the study were obtained with the Near Infrared Imager (NIRI), an instrument built by the University of Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy.

Press Release

 

May 1, 2020: IfA Staff and Machine Shop Assist with Kahanu Ventilator Production

Working on their own time, IfA's Lou Robertson, Bill Unruh, and Jessica Young utilized our machine shop to produce precision parts for Hawaiʻi's home-grown Kahanu ventilator production. They also 3-D printed facemasks for donation to medical facilities.

IfA production of parts for Kahanu ventilator

Learn More

 

April 29, 2020: Newly Discovered Exoplanet Dethrones Former King Of Kepler-88 Planetary System

A team of astronomers led by the University of Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy has discovered a planet three times the mass of Jupiter in a distant planetary system, as they seek to find out if other planetary systems have gravitational gods like Jupiter.

Press Release

 

March 20, 2020: Aloha Don Hall

We are extremely sad to report that Donald N.B. Hall, Astronomer at the University of Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy (IfA), passed away on the morning of March 18th, 2020, after suffering a heart attack. Our deepest sympathies go out to his family, friends, students, and colleagues. Further information will be provided when it becomes available.

 

Annual Open House POSTPONED!

Due to COVID-19, UH is cancelling all events with over 100 attendees. Our annual Open House will be postponed to the fall semester. We will miss you all, and please be safe!

 

Jan. 29, 2020: Never-before-seen images of Sun released from world's largest solar telescope

Researchers and the general public are getting a glimpse of the most detailed view ever of the Sun, thanks to the National Science Foundation's Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) on Haleakalā, Maui. The imagery, released January 29, 2020, shows cell-like structures the size of Texas roiling on the Sun's surface and the tiny footprints of magnetism that reach into space.

Press Release

 

Jan. 23, 2020: IfA Astronomer Shadia Habbal star of new children's book

University of Hawaiʻi astronomer Shadia Rifai Habbal travels the globe to capture total solar eclipses — when the Sun, Moon and Earth align, a phenomenon that has captivated humans for centuries. Now the award-winning astronomy professor's quest to hunt down solar eclipses is at the center of childrenss book "Eclipse Chaser: Science in the Moon's Shadow," by local author Ilima Loomis.

Press Release

 

Jan. 4, 2020: American Astronomical Society 235th Meeting in Honolulu

The 235th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society is at the Hawaii Convention Center Jan. 4th-8th. Over 3400 astronomers are attending, making it the largest AAS meeting ever. Public events include:
Sunday, January 5th, 7-9PM: Stargazing at Ala Moana Beach Park (Map)
Monday, January 6th, 7-8:30PM: Free Public Talk at Hawaii Convention Center, Physics of Pō (details)

Meeting Website

 

Dec. 16, 2019: Capturing Shooting Stars Over Hawaiʻi

Astronomers now have a new pair of eyes to detect meteors over Hawaiʻi using a state-of-the-art monitoring system installed on the rooftops of existing building on Maunakea and Haleakalā. The high-speed video devices are now fully operational and part of an expanding network of identical cameras in the Automated Meteor Observation System (AMOS).

Press Release

 

Nov. 5, 2019: Astronomy graduate student awarded three-year NASA fellowship

A University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Institute for Astronomy (IfA) graduate student received a three-year NASA fellowship that sponsors rising STEM scientists who will support future NASA discoveries. She is the first UH student to receive this award, worth $55,000 a year.

Press Release

 

Sept. 26, 2019: Black hole shreds star; UH astronomer on discovery team

For the first time, astronomers have witnessed the immediate aftermath of a star being violently ripped apart by a supermassive black hole. The observations were published Thursday in The Astrophysical Journal. IfA's Benjamin Shappee is part of the team of astronomers led by Carnegie Observatories' Thomas Holoien. Both are founding members of the Ohio State University-based All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae (ASAS-SN)

Press Release

 

Sept. 10, 2019: Are black holes made of dark energy?

Two University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa researchers have identified and corrected a subtle error that was made when applying Einstein's equations to model the growth of the universe. The results suggest that compact objects like black holes could be made of dark energy.

UH Press Release

 

August 12, 2019: Critical observation made on Maunakea during first night of return to operations

The existing astronomical observatories on Maunakea returned to operations this weekend, and it didn't take long for a significant result to be achieved, not only for science, but for assuring the safety of the Earth. Observations of the near-Earth asteroid 2006 QV89 made on August 11 with the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) have ruled out any potential future impact threat to the Earth by this asteroid for the next century.

UH Press Release

 

August 8, 2019: Astronomers to deploy breakthrough technology at UH telescope

The National Science Foundation has awarded a $1.1 million grant to a University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa Institute for Astronomy (IfA) scientist to install a high-tech shape-shifting secondary mirror on the UH 2.2-meter telescope on Maunakea.

UH Press Release

 

July 26, 2019: NASA awards grants to 3 UH grad students

NASA awarded three graduate students at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa with Future Investigators in NASA Earth and Space Science and Technology (FINESST) grants, providing $45,000 annually for up to three years for their contributions toward reaching science, technology and exploration goals. One of the awardees is our own Travis Berger. The others are atmospheric science student Madeline McKenna and physics student Cory Gerrity. UHM and UChicago were the only universities to have three awardees, the most of any schools this year.

UH Press Release

 

July 22, 2019: Astronomers map vast void in our cosmic neighborhood

An astronomer from the University of Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy (IfA) and an international team published a new study that reveals more of the vast cosmic structure surrounding our Milky Way galaxy.

Press Release

 

July 12, 2019: NASA contract awarded to UH Institute for Astronomy for observatory management

NASA has awarded a contract to the University of Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy to continue to manage and operate the agency's Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) on Maunakea. The potential value of the contract is approximately $30 million. About 30 IfA researchers and staff based in Hilo and Honolulu are involved in supporting the IRTF, which started operations 40 years ago this month.

UH Press Release

 

July 1, 2019: ʻOumuamua is Not an Alien Spacecraft

An international team of asteroid and comet experts, including two from the University of Hawaiʻi, agrees on a natural origin for our first interstellar visitor.

Press Release

 

June 25, 2019: Breakthrough: UH team successfully locates incoming asteroid

For the first time, astronomers at the University of Hawaiʻi have demonstrated that their ATLAS and Pan-STARRS survey telescopes can provide sufficient warning to move people away from the impact site of an incoming asteroid. They detected a small asteroid prior to its entering the Earth's atmosphere near Puerto Rico on the morning of June 22, 2019.

Press Release

 

June 20, 2019: TMT receives notice to proceed from the state

Gov. David Ige announced that the state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) issued a notice to proceed (NTP) to the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo for the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project on Maunakea on Hawaiʻi Island.

UH Press Release

 

April 25, 2019: UH astronomer earns national award for solar research

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded an assistant astronomer at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Institute for Astronomy one of its most prestigious awards for junior faculty. Xudong Sun received a $620,590 grant for a five-year term from the NSF Faculty Early Career Development program. The award is bestowed on teacher-scholars pursuing cutting-edge research while simultaneously advancing excellence in education.

Press Release

 

April 16, 2019: Scientists Fill Out A Circumbinary Planetary System

A team of astronomers, including Nader Haghighipour from the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, have discovered a third planet in the circumbinary planetary system Kepler-47. This discovery cements the system's title as the most interesting of the binary-star worlds, and marks the first complete and dynamically full planetary system around a binary star.

The Kepler 47 binary star system and its planets

Press Release

 

March 28, 2019: Hawaiʻi Team Catches Asteroid As It Self-Destructs

Astronomers once thought asteroids were boring, wayward space rocks that simply orbit around the Sun. New observations are turning these ideas on their heads, showing that asteroids are anything but dull. Asteroid Gault, discovered in 1998, has begun to slowly disintegrate. The crumbling was first detected on Jan. 5, 2019 by the IfA's ATLAS telescopes on Maunaloa and Haleakalā. Spectacular images of asteroid 6478 Gault from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope show two narrow, comet-like tails of debris streaming from the diminutive 2.5-mile-wide asteroid.

Press Release

 

March 5, 2019: Kepler Space Telescope's First Exoplanet Candidate Confirmed, Ten Years After Launch

The Kepler Space Telescope was launched ten years ago ans has discovered thousands of exoplanets. Today, an international team of astronomers, led by University of Hawaiʻi graduate student Ashley Chontos, announced the confirmation of the very first exoplanet candidate identified by that mission.

Press Release

 

February 19, 2019: University of Hawaiʻi Astronomer Awarded Prestigious Sloan Foundation Fellowship

Daniel Huber, an Assistant Astronomer at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Institute for Astronomy (IfA), has been selected for a prestigious 2019 Sloan Research Fellowship, one of 126 recipients across the U.S. and Canada.

Press Release

 

January 28, 2019: World's largest digital sky survey issues biggest astronomical data release ever

The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, in conjunction with the University of Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy (IfA), is releasing the second edition of data from Pan-STARRS — the Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System — the world's largest digital sky survey.

Press Release

 

January 8, 2019: University of Hawaiʻi Astronomer Receives American Astronomical Society's Highest Award

Ann Merchant Boesgaard, Professor of Astronomy, Emerita at the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy (IfA), has been awarded the 2019 Henry Norris Russell Lectureship by the American Astronomical Society (AAS). The Russell Prize is the AAS' highest award, and is bestowed annually on the basis of a lifetime of eminence in astronomical research.

Press Release

 

December 17, 2018: Discovered: Most Distant Solar System Object Ever Observed

A team of astronomers has discovered the most distant body ever observed in our solar system. It is the first known solar system object that has been detected at a distance that is more than 100 times farther than Earth is from the Sun.

The new object was announced on Monday, December 17, 2018, by the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center and has been given the provisional designation 2018 VG18. The discovery was made by Carnegie Observaties' Scott S. Sheppard, the University of Hawaiiʻs David Tholen, and Northern Arizona University's Chad Trujillo.

Carnegie Press Release

 

November 30, 2018: Newly discovered supernova may rewrite exploding star origin theories

A supernova discovered by an international group of astronomers has provided an unprecedented look at the first moments of a violent stellar explosion. The team, led in part by IfA Astronomer Ben Shappee, found a mysterious signature in the light from the explosion's first hour. Follow-up obervations suggest that the traditional original theory for these tupes of supernovae is wrong.

Press Release

 

November 28, 2018: Waipahu HS student, Maunakea scholar studies Star Wars planet

The Star Wars universe turned from science fiction to science fact for a Waipahu High School student, who observed a real-life "Tatooine" using one of the largest, most scientifically-impactful observatories in the world.

UH Press Release

 

November 27, 2018: Maunakea Visitor Information Station begins improvements; stargazing and operating hours impacted

The Maunakea Visitor Information Station (VIS) on Hawaiʻi Island will adjust its closing time from 10 p.m. to 5 p.m. beginning Sunday, December 9, for an infrastructure project that will improve visitor safety and to better protect natural, historic and cultural resources. Preparations will begin in December with construction slated to start in January 2019. The project is expected to take about six months.

UH Press Release

 

November 7, 2018: Best View Yet of Supermassive Black Holes in Merging Galaxies

A team of astronomers, including IfA's David Sanders and former IfA postdoc Mike Koss, have used the W. M. Keck Observatory on Muanakea and the Hubble Space Telescope to complete the most detailed census of supermassive black holes in colliding galaxies. The team's findings support the theory that galaxy mergers explain how some supermassive black holes become so monstrously large.

Press Release

 

October 2, 2018: While Seeking Planet X, Astronomers Find a Distant Solar System Object

Astronomers have discovered a new object at the edge of our Solar System. The new extremely distant object far beyond Pluto has an orbit that supports the presence of a larger Planet X. The newly found object, called 2015 TG387, was announced by the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center on Monday, October 1, 2018.

Press Release

“Discovery

 

Sept. 27, 2018: Fundraising in honor of late Native Hawaiian astronomer passes halfway mark

The University of Hawaiʻi is delighted to announce that the Paul H.I. Coleman Scholarship fund is now more than halfway to the goal of raising a $100,000 endowment to support local high school graduates who choose to study astronomy at UH.

UH News Story

 

August 15, 2018: ATLAS Asteroid Detection System Will Expand to Southern Hemishphere

The IfA's Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS), a NASA-funded telescope network devoted to detecting space rocks that could crash into Earth, will expand into the Southern Hemisphere, which currently lacks a large-scale asteroid-surveillance effort. The additional observatories will not only spot asteroids that could harm people, but also detect comets, supernovae and other benign celestial objects.

Nature Press Release

 

August 14, 2018: IfA Graduate BJ Fulton Receives Prestigious Trumpler Award

Dr. Benjamin J. (BJ) Fulton, who received his doctorate from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Institute for Astronomy (IfA) in 2017, has been awarded the Robert J. Trumpler Award, given by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific to recognize a recent PhD thesis considered unusually important to astronomy. He is the third IfA gradute to receive the award in the past five years.

Press Release

 

July 16, 2018: Astronomers Find a Famous Exoplanet's Doppelgänger

When it comes to extrasolar planets, appearances can be deceiving. Astronomers from Hawaiʻ and elsewhere have imaged a new planet, and it appears nearly identical to one of the best studied gas-giant planets. But this doppelgänger differs in one very important way: its origin.

Press Release

 

July 13, 2018: ATLAS telescope pinpoints meteorite impact prediction

A multinational team of scientists has just found the first fragments of the small asteroid 2018 LA, which exploded harmlessly high above Africa on June 2. The University of Hawaiʻi's Asteroid Terrestrial-Impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) telescope took the final images of 2018 LA before it entered Earth's atmosphere and exploded.

2018LA impact prediction map

Press Release

 

July 12, 2018: Hawaiʻi telescopes help unravel long-standing cosmic mystery

Astronomers and physicists around the world, including here in Hawaiʻi, have begun to unravel a long-standing cosmic mystery. Using a vast array of telescopes in space and on Earth, they have identified a source of cosmic rays-highly energetic particles that continuously rain down on Earth from space. In a paper published this week in the journal Science, scientists have, for the first time, provided evidence for a known blazar, designated TXS 0506+056, as a source of high-energy neutrinos.

Press Release

 

June 27, 2018: Is the Interstellar Asteroid Really a Comet?

The interstellar object ʻOumuamua was discovered back on October 19, 2017, but the puzzle of its true nature has taken months to unravel, and may never be fully solved. Today, an international team led by IfA graduate Marco Micheli and IfA Astronomer Karen Meech reports that it might be a comet, and not an asteroid as initially thought.

“Oumuamua”

Press Release

 

June 20, 2018: UH astronomy graduate students earn worldwide recognition

Four current and former doctoral students from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Institute for Astronomy (IfA) have been recognized for outstanding research.

Press Release

 

May 3, 2018: University of Hawaiʻi Astronomer John Tonry Elected to National Academy of Sciences

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa astronomer John Tonry has been named as one of the National Academy of Sciences' 84 newly chosen members. Tonry, who has been with the UH Mānoa Institute for Astronomy since 1996, joins an elite group of fewer than 2,400 exceptional scientists worldwide. NAS members are recognized for their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

Press Release

 

April 18, 2018: UH Astronomers to Uncover the Secrets of Stars and Exoplanets with NASA's TESS Satellite

Today, NASA launched the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), its newest telescope to search for planets beyond our Solar System, and astronomers from the University of Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy and Maunakea telescopes will be a part of the adventure.

Press Release

 

In Memoriam: Paul Coleman

Paul Coleman, an astronomer at the University of Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy, passed away at his home on January 16th, 2018. Paul was the first Native Hawaiian with a doctorate in astrophysics. In his 15 years with the IfA, Paul played a key role in our education and public outreach efforts, and advocated tirelessly for astronomy in Hawaiʻi.

Obituary

 

February 9, 2018: UH ATLAS Telescope spots SpaceX Tesla Roadster in Flight

The University of Hawaiʻi ATLAS (Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System) telescope on Mauna Loa captured images on February 8, 2018 of the Tesla Roadster launched into space as part of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy test.

Press Release

 

January 31, 2018: Natural Telescope Sets New Magnification Record

Extremely distant galaxies are usually too faint to be seen, even by the largest telescopes. But nature has a solution - gravitational lensing, predicted by Albert Einstein and observed many times by astronomers. Now, an international team of astronomers led by Harald Ebeling from the University of Hawaii has discovered one of the most extreme instances of magnification by gravitational lensing.

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