Faherty and Team Discover Water Ice Clouds on a Brown Dwarf Just 7.3 Light-Years from Earth


Just 7.3 light-years from Earth, astronomers have found signs of water ice clouds on a the coldest giant brown dwarf ever found.    

DTM Postdoc Jackie Faherty and team scanned the sky for three nights in May 2014 using the 6.5-meter Magellan Baade telescope in Chile to take 151 near-infrared images, which later revealed the discovery.

The report will appear in The Astrophysical Journal Letters here. 


Nittler is Part of the Stardust Research Team that Discovered 7 Grains from Outside our Solar System


Where did our solar system come from? In 2006, NASA’s Stardust spacecraft returned to Earth with samples of a comet’s dust grains containing clues that could help researchers answer this question. Now, almost a decade later, scores of scientists have researched these dust particles and identified 7 grains that most likely came from outside our solar system. 

In 1999, the Stardust spacecraft launched into space aboard a Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Station, Florida. It’s objective was to fly through the wake of comet Wild-2 near Jupiter and capture cometary dust in aerogel tiles and aluminum foils mounted on the front of a two-sided collector. In addition, collectors were mounted on the rear of the spacecraft to catch particles from the snowstorm of interstellar dust streaming through the galaxy. In 2006, Stardust flew by Earth and dropped by parachute the separate tennis racquet-shaped comet and interstellar dust collectors. Since then, a research team consisting of 66 scientists from 7 different countries along with 30,000 citizen scientists, self-proclaimed “Dusters” using the online Stardust@home project, have been examining millions of microscopic images of interstellar dust.

DTM Staff Scientist Larry Nittler is the 13th among the 66 authors on Stardust’s paper in the August 15th issue of Science entitled, “Evidence for interstellar origin of seven dust particles collected by the Stardust spacecraft, detailing the results from Stardust.”


DTM Postdoctoral Fellowship Openings


DTM offers a variety of postdoctoral fellowship and associate positions. Fellows and associates can engage in a wide range of experiences that include designing and constructing specialized experimental devices; participating in seminars and symposia; and gathering and analyzing data. These projects are shaped to preserve maximum flexibility and to fit the scientific interests of both Staff Members and fellows. 

Fellows at DTM are regarded as scientific colleagues, free to chart their individual research agendas. Every fellow has access to the full staff of DTM and the other departments of the Carnegie Institution, as well as to a group of nonresident collaborators and visiting investigators from all parts of the world. Cooperating institutions, universities, government agencies, and private organizations provide further substantial resources for scholarship. There are also joint fellows of DTM and the Geophysical Laboratory in areas of mutual interest.

Go to our Postdoctoral Fellowships page to learn more about DTM's upcoming fellowship openings. 


DTM Participates in the Smithsonian's Science Education Academies for Teachers Workshop


Each summer, the Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC) in Washington, D.C., organizes a week-long teacher development program. This program, named the Smithsonian Science Education Academies for Teachers (SSEATS), aims to deliver professional development opportunities to teachers around the country in collaboration with other museums, Smithsonian units, partners, and world-class science research facilities, including Carnegie Institution for Science’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism (DTM). 

For the past 5 years, DTM, spearheaded by Staff Scientist Steve Shirey, has hosted a portion of this workshop on campus. While here, participants are given presentations on the research DTM does, engage in an experiment, and tour the various labs on campus. This year, Shirey presented on, “How to Measure and Understand Earth’s History and Ancient Global Change,” to illustrate how science can make precise measurements on the timing of  events in our history, like the birth of our planet or evolution of our solar system.


Scott Sheppard and Chad Trujillo Discover One of the Most Distant Comets to Show Activity

Sheppard Trujillo Comet

Scott Sheppard, along with Chad Trujillo of the Gemini Observatory in Hilo, Hawaii, discovered their first comet during observations at the Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory (CTIO) 4 meter telescope while looking for objects in the far outer reaches of the Solar System.   

The comet, named Sheppard-Trujillo after its discoverers, is one of the most distant comets ever discovered to show activity.  Sheppard-Trujillo is currently about 13 AU from the Sun, making it more distant from Earth than Saturn.  At this distance, water ice is too cold to efficiently sublimate off the surface of an object and thus the activity is likely caused by Carbon Monoxide or Carbon Dioxide sublimation, which is different than most comets that have their activity dominated by water ice sublimation.  


Carnegie wishes laser inventor happy 99th birthday

Carnegie News

Nobel laureate and trustee emeritus Charles Townes is celebrating his 99th birthday on Monday, July 28.

Townes joined the Carnegie board in 1965, one year after he shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with Alexander Prokhorov and Nikolai Basov for the development of the maser, acronym for microwave amplification by stimulated emission of radiation, and its better-known optical counterpart, the laser.