Kent Ford & Vera Rubin's Image Tube Spectrograph named in Smithsonian's "101 Objects that Made America"

101 Objects that Made America

In the early 1970s, astronomer Vera Rubin and Kent Ford at the Carnegie Institution for Science attached the Image Tube Spectrograph to several large telescopes to analyze distant spiral galaxies. This state-of-the-art instrument allowed telescopes to observe objects that were many times fainter than those that had been previously studied. What they found would change our understanding of the universe: The galaxies’ outer arms were rotating at velocities that should have made their stars fly away—but didn’t. The only explanation, Rubin decided, was that the galaxies contained far more mass than we could see. It was the strongest evidence yet for the existence of dark matter, now believed to make up 26.8 percent of all the stuff that exists.

Rubin and DTM collaborators Ford, Norbert Thonnard, and John Graham were among the first astronomers to examine the systemic velocities of galaxies to see if there are large-scale motions of galaxies, superposed on the general expansion of the universe. Their early work, and more recent work by others, suggests that such motions exist.


How to Communicate Science with a Story

Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science

On Thursday, October 17th 2013, Lydia Franco-Hodges and Christie Nicholson of Stony Brook University's Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science came to the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism’s (DTM) campus and gave a workshop to the DTM Postdoctoral fellows on how to passionately and effectively communicate their scientific research and engage an audience.

The Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science works to enhance the understanding of science by training the next generation of scientists and health professionals to communicate more effectively with the public, public officials, the media and others outside their own discipline. But why is communicating science important?


Found: Planets Skimming a Star’s Surface

Brian Jackson

A new planet-hunting survey has revealed planetary candidates with orbital periods as short as four hours and so close to their host stars that they are nearly skimming the stellar surface. If confirmed, these candidates would be among the closest planets to their stars discovered so far. DTM Post Doctoral Fellow, Brian Jackson, presented his team’s findings, which are based on data from NASA’s Kepler mission, at the American Astronomical Society’s Division of Planetary Sciences meeting Tuesday.


DTM Joins SOME to Celebrate 35 Years of Feeding the Homeless in Washington, D.C.


On Sunday, 6 October 2013, So Others Might Eat (SOME) held its 35th anniversary celebration at the Copley Formal Lounge at Georgetown University where the Georgetown University Gospel Choir and the Georgetown A Cappella Group, The GraceNotes, both paid tribute to SOME’s work. DTM’s Director, Lindy Elkins-Tanton, her husband James, and Daniela Power, were among the honored guests that night.


How old is the moon? About 100 Million Years Younger Than We Once Thought

How old is the moon?

New research and recent analyses of lunar rocks suggests an object 5 times the mass of Mars actually collided with Earth and created a monster impact that led to the formation of Earth’s moon between 4.4 billion and 4.45 billion years ago. This new timeline marks the moon 100 million years younger than we once thought and reshapes scientists’ understanding of the early Earth and moon.


Former Staff Member Sara Seager Among Winners of the 2013 MacArthur Fellowship

MacArthur Foundation Sarah Seager

Astrophysicist and planetary scientist Sara Seager, a DTM staff member from 2002 to 2006, has just been awarded a 2013 MacArthur Fellowship.