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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



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.


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.



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.

Press Release


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