Grant: $285,147 - National Science Foundation - Jul. 13, 2009
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Award Description: In this project, Dr. Ben Oppenheimer of the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) and Dr. Lynne Hillenbrand of the California Institute of Technology will conduct a survey of nearby stars to detect planetary companions. They have previously developed a new instrument which has unprecedented sensitivity in the direct detection of planets near bright stars. The instrumentation is fully functional and initial observations on the Palomar 5-m telescope have already demonstrated a factor of 100 improvement in speckle suppression relative to other coronagraphs. With this project, they will begin a three-year survey with over 120 nights of guaranteed time on the Palomar telescope. There are two main goals: first, they will observe fainter and younger stars than current systems can track utilizing a new type of speckle suppression technique recently demonstrated from Palomar; second, with the implementation of Palomar's 3000 actuator adaptive-optics system in 2010, they will begin a survey of the brightest (youngest) stars in the Northern hemisphere to find exoplanets and measure their spectra. The project should yield a significant sample of exoplanets and other objects (from brown dwarfs to disks) in orbit around nearby stars. The research team will involve undergraduates through programs at AMNH and at Caltech's SURF Program, as well as high-school students from under-represented groups, through the museum's high-school research program. They will also bring the Museum's AstroBulletin program of biweekly news items and twice-yearly documentaries to the Palomar Observatory's Visitor Center, so that current science is continuously presented to that museum's more than 100,000 visitors per year. These AstroBulletins reach over 11 million people through AMNH and 45 partner institutions around the world. Palomar would be the newest partner institution under this program.
Project Description: See Award Description.
Jobs Summary: N/A (Total jobs reported: 0)
Project Status: Less Than 50% Completed
This award's data was last updated on Jul. 13, 2009. Help expand these official descriptions using the wiki below.