Upgraded Hobby-Eberly Telescope Sees First Light
Tracking HET’s Progress
VIRUS units come together
News Releases
HETDEX in the News
Image & Media Gallery


April 2017: Upgraded Telescope Ready to 'Unlock the Mysteries of the Universe'

The upgraded Hobby-Eberly Telescope is "one of the best tools in the world for us to unlock the mysteries of the universe," McDonald Observatory Director Taft Armandroff told attendees at the telescope's re-dedication on April 9. "HET has been upgraded to a wider field, with better image quality and truly remarkable instrumentation to attack the scientific problems that our scientists have deemed their top priority." More »

November 2015: Upgraded Hobby-Eberly Telescope Sees First Light

After several years and a massive team effort, the upgraded Hobby-Eberly Telescope has achieved "first light," taking its first images of the sky — a critical step on the path to beginning HETDEX and other leading-edge scientific experiments. More »

March 2015: Engineers install, test cryogenic system for HETDEX detectors

The detectors in the suite of 156 spectrographs for HETDEX will be chilled to roughly minus-148 degrees Fahrenheit (-100 C) with liquid nitrogen. Engineers have installed the plumbing to support that temperature and are testing the system prior to the installation of the VIRUS spectrographs on the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) later this year. “We’re trying to understand the characteristics of the system,” says project engineer Richard Savage. “So far, it’s behaving as expected.” More »

October 2013: VIRUS units come together in labs in Texas, the world

HET and crance

For much of its history, astronomy has been a science of one: One astronomer, using one telescope and one scientific instrument, looking at one object at a time. In recent decades, though, the lone astronomer has given way to big teams, which may use several telescopes or look at hundreds of objects in a single observation. And now, HETDEX is getting ready to replace the single instrument with a suite of 150 identical spectrographs. Known as VIRUS, it will allow HETDEX astronomers to study hundreds of galaxies in a single view and tens of thousands in a single night — all to help explain mysterious dark energy. More

September 2013: Telescope takes last look at the sky before engineers begin HETDEX upgrade

The Hobby-Eberly Telescope went dark in late August — the first step toward an upgrade that will allow it to probe the nature of dark energy. More

May 2013: Mirror Coating Smooths the Way for HET Upgrade

The HETDEX project has passed an important milestone with the successful coating of the three largest mirrors in the wide-field corrector, a system that will focus light from the Hobby-Eberly Telescope’s primary mirror and direct it to the scientific instruments. More

March 2011: The Hobby-Eberly Telescope is about to get a facelift.

Gary and Guillermo

In the summer of 2011, engineers will lop off the package of mirrors, instruments, and electronics sitting 60 feet above its primary mirror and replace it with one that is heavier and more sophisticated. The replacement will give the giant telescope a wider yet sharper view of the sky and support a new set of powerful instruments that will allow it to begin probing the mystery of dark energy.

The technological rhinoplasty is part of an extensive telescope upgrade for the Hobby-Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment (HETDEX), which is scheduled to begin full science operations in 2012. More

June 2009: Getting a Jump

While engineers prepare the 150 planned VIRUS units for HETDEX observations, several University of Texas graduate students are putting the prototype, known as VIRUS-P, to use on a variety of research projects. They are using its wide field of view and its 280 optical fibers to produce detailed looks at the structure and composition of galaxies, nebulae, and other objects. More

HETDEX in the News

"Cosmic Efforts Shed Light on Dark Universe," by David Bradley; StarDate, July/August 2007

"Sailing Into the Dark," by Gary Hill; Fort Worth Star-Telegram, April 8, 2007

"In Pursuit of Knowledge"; Austin American-Statesman, April 1, 2007

"UT Receives $5M Grant to Study Dark Energy"; Austin Business Journal, April 27, 2006

"Feature: Dark Energy," by Patrick Brendel; FOCUS on Science, Spring 2007