Master of Arts
Doctor of Philosophy

For More Information

Campus address: Robert Lee Moore Hall (RLM) 15.204, phone (512) 471-0481, fax (512) 471-6016; campus mail code: C1400

Mailing address: The University of Texas at Austin, Department of Astronomy, Graduate Program, 2515 Speedway C1400, Austin TX 78712



Facilities for Graduate Work

Facilities for research in astronomy are located on the campus in Austin, at the McDonald Observatory in West Texas, and at the California Institute of Technology Submillimeter Observatory on Mauna Kea, Hawaii. Equipment in Austin includes a 16-inch reflector and several smaller telescopes. In addition to the facilities of Information Technology Services, a dedicated Sun Enterprise 3501 server, one hundred Sun workstations, and numerous desktop computers serve the Department of Astronomy and McDonald Observatory for data reduction and analysis, image processing, and other computer needs. The department operates an electronics shop, engineering and instrumentation laboratories, and a well-stocked research library. The Kuehne Physics Mathematics Astronomy Library is located in Robert Lee Moore Hall.

Facilities for research at McDonald Observatory include the 2.7-m reflector, which has Cassegrain and coudé foci and a variety of auxiliary instruments, including Cassegrain and coudé spectrometers equipped with digital detectors. The telescope is supplemented by a versatile computer system. The 2.1-m Struve reflector is used at the Cassegrain focus, or with a large spectrograph at the coudé focus. Cassegrain instrumentation includes a low-resolution spectrograph with linear detectors, direct and intensified cameras, two-channel high-speed photometers, a polarimeter, and a Fabry-Pérot interferometer.

The Hobby-Eberly telescope is a composite mirror instrument with an effective aperture of about 8.5-m, intended primarily for spectroscopic work. A low-resolution spectrograph, a medium-resolution spectrograph, and a high-resolution spectrograph are available and provide useful data. Two smaller reflectors, 0.9-m and 0.8-m, are used primarily for photoelectric photometry and charge-coupled device surveys. An excellent library is maintained for research and instruction, and other facilities include darkrooms, instrument and machine shops, and transient quarters.

The 10-m submillimeter-wavelength radio telescope built by the California Institute of Technology on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, is also used by faculty members and students in astronomy; three weeks a year are dedicated to University of Texas at Austin research. This research involves primarily the study of radiation from interstellar molecules and dust; it also includes the development of novel instrumentation.

Areas of Study

Graduate instruction and research are conducted in observational astronomy and astrophysics. Observational opportunities are available in conventional photometry, polarimetry, and fast photometry of stellar oscillations; spectroscopy and spectrophotometry of planets, stars, nebulae, galaxies, and quasars; galactic and extragalactic research; planetary and cometary studies; infrared and millimeter astronomy; radio astronomy and instrumentation; and space astronomy. There are also instruction and research opportunities in theoretical astrophysics, including the origin of the elements, celestial mechanics, cosmology, stellar structure and evolution, stellar atmospheres, and interstellar material. There are opportunities for cooperative interdepartmental research with groups in the Department of Physics and the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics.

Graduate Studies Committee

The following faculty members served on the Graduate Studies Committee in the spring semester 2015.

Taft E Armandroff
Volker Bromm
William D Cochran
Harriet L Dinerstein
Neal J Evans II
Steven Lyle Finkelstein
Karl Gebhardt
Gary J Hill
Daniel T Jaffe
Shardha Jogee
John Kormendy
Adam L Kraus
Pawan Kumar
John H Lacy
David L Lambert
Milos Milosavljevic
Edward L Robinson
John M Scalo
Paul R Shapiro
Christopher A Sneden
Steven Weinberg
John C Wheeler
Derek Wills
Don Winget

Admission Requirements

Prerequisites for graduate work in astronomy are at least fifteen to eighteen semester hours of upper-division coursework in astronomy and physics, including courses in mechanics, electricity and magnetism, statistical physics, and quantum mechanics; and a satisfactory score on the Graduate Record Examinations Physics Test. The Physics Test must be taken in addition to the General Test of the Graduate Record Examinations, which is required for admission to the Graduate School. An applicant who does not present a satisfactory score on the Physics Test may, on recommendation of the Graduate Studies Committee, be granted a conditional admission to the program requiring removal of deficiencies in physics. A detailed evaluation is made of each new student’s physics and astronomy background to identify any deficiencies that should be removed.