Scott Sheppard and Chad Trujillo Discover a Dwarf Planet on the Fringe of the Solar System

2012 VP 113

How big is the Solar System? After the discovery of the dwarf planet Sedna ten years ago, the question of what lies beyond the edge of the Solar System has been continuously sought out by the world’s brightest astronomers. This week, that question gets closer to an answer. DTM staff scientist Scott Sheppard and co-discoverer Chad Trujillo of the Gemini Observatory in Hilo, Hawaii, report in Nature their discovery of the dwarf planet 2012 VP113 orbiting the Sun far beyond Pluto in the most distant orbital trajectory around the Sun known.


A Digital “Experiment” in Online Collaboration Opens its Doors at Carnegie’s Broad Branch Road Campus


Led by Carnegie’s highly respected librarian, Shaun Hardy, the Broad Branch Road (BBR) campus opened the Abelson Collaboration Center (ACC), a new digital collaboration room, this year. In this interview, Shaun takes us inside the design, creation and execution of the new facility and his hopes for the future uses of the ACC.


March Postdoc Spotlight - Shoshana Weider


In a city as big as London, with all its light pollution, it is nearly impossible to see the spectacular stars, planets, and galaxies that decorate the night sky. But for DTM MESSENGER postdoctoral fellow, Shoshana Weider, growing up in the metropolis did not weaken her desire to investigate the universe. As a teenager, she took extra-curricular astronomy classes and reveled in inspirational movies like Apollo 13. Weider chose to study Earth Sciences for her undergraduate at the University of Oxford simply because she wanted to understand why the Earth looks and behaves the way it does. Her transition to lunar geology for her Ph.D. at Birkbeck College, University of London, made perfect sense as it coupled her long-lasting love for space with her geological knowledge. 


Giant Magellan Telescope Looking Toward Construction

Giant Magellan Telescope

The international consortium of the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) project has passed two major reviews and is positioned to enter the construction phase. When completed, the 25-meter GMT will have more than six times the collecting area of the largest telescopes today and ten times the resolution of the Hubble Space Telescope. Scientists will explore distant and potentially habitable planets around other stars, the universe in the first billion years after the Big Bang, and the mysteries of dark matter, dark energy and massive black holes.

The Carnegie Institution for Science is a founding partner of the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization (GMTO).* During a week-long review in mid-January, an international panel of experts examined the telescope’s design, its complex optical systems and precision scientific instruments. The panel concluded that the project meets the technical readiness required to proceed to construction. Immediately following the design review, a team of construction experts scrutinized the project’s cost estimate and management plan. Both review panels endorsed the team’s cost estimate and their approach to managing construction of the telescope atop a remote mountain peak in the Chilean Andes.


The Discovery of the Star Gliese 667 Cc Makes the American Physical Society Newsmakers List of 2013

The Discovery of the Star Gliese 667 Cc  Makes the American Physical Society Newsmakers List of 2013

Each year, the American Physical Society (APS) News sifts through the past year’s science headlines to decide which physics news garnered the most publicity worldwide. Included on this prestigious list is a collaborative observation campaign of the star Gliese 667 Cc between the Institute for Astronomy (IfA), the Carnegie Institution for Science, DTM and the University of California Santa Cruz. This collaboration includes former DTM postdoctoral fellows, Nader Haghighipour and Guillem Anglada-Escudé, alongside their former supervisor, Paul Butler.

Gliese 667 Cc is a triple-star system in the constellation of Scorpius, whose exoplanets are smaller than the Sun and orbit the star within a safe distance. In the November issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), scientists estimate that one in five sun-like stars in the galaxy, like Gliese 667 Cc, have planets in their habitable zones, meaning there could be an inhabited planet within only 12 light-years of Earth. (PNAS)