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Project-1640-260

Project 1640

Research posts

An advanced telescope imaging system that started taking data last month is the first of its kind capable of spotting planets orbiting suns outside of our solar system. The collaborative set of high-tech instrumentation and software, called Project 1640, is now operating on the Hale telescope at the Palomar Observatory in California, where it uses a new starlight-suppressing technique to see dim planets and other celestial objects in the star’s neighborhood. A large portion of the imaging system was developed and tested in the Museum’s optics laboratory by Rebecca Oppenheimer, an associate curator in the Department of Astrophysics and principal investigator for the project.

Tags: Exoplanets, Rose Center for Earth and Space

Visiting the Museum's Great Gull Island

Research posts

On the eastern edge of Long Island Sound, a small, rocky piece of land known as Great Gull Island houses the crumbling battlements of a U.S. Army fort and some 11,000 nesting pairs of Common and Roseate Terns. The Museum purchased the island in 1949 to preserve a breeding habitat for terns displaced by increasing development on Long Island’s beaches. The acquisition has proven to be a success, as the remaining Army structures are a nesting tern’s delight.

Tags: Members

Dino-Bird Transition

Developmental Timing Offers Another Window Into Dinosaur-Bird Transition

Research posts

A new study has used skull anatomy to show that the evolution of birds from dinosaurs may have resulted from a drastic change in dinosaur development.

In a study published this week in the journal Nature, researchers from Harvard University, the Museum, the New York Institute of Technology, The University of Texas at Austin, and the Autonomous University of Madrid report evidence that while many dinosaurs took years to reach sexual maturity, birds sped up the developmental clock, which led them to retain the physical characteristics of baby dinosaurs.

Tags: Dinosaurs

Venus transit_1

Countdown to the Transit of Venus on June 5

Research posts

Astrophysicist Jackie Faherty is blogging about the upcoming transit of Venus, which will take place next week. In her first post, she explains what the transit is, when it occurs, where she will be observing it—and where New Yorkers can catch a glimpse of the phenomenon.

A rare astronomical event is upon us: our sister planet Venus is about to transit our Sun. Depending on your geographic location, this means that the distant planet will glide across the face of the Sun appearing as a small black dot for several hours. Just like the Moon will sometimes pass between the Earth and the Sun, causing a solar eclipse, so do the innermost planets Venus and Mercury. However, since Venus and Mercury are many times more distant to us than the Moon, and since their orbits are not perfectly aligned with that of the Earth, transits of the inner planets are far more rare than solar eclipses and the shadows they cast are smaller. But the event is no less dramatic and unfolds over several hours rather than mere minutes.

Tags: Hayden Planetarium

Supramap-250

Researchers Broaden Reach of Virus Tracking Software

Research posts

A web-based application that tracks dangerous viruses as they spread has been restructured to allow even wider use of the program around the world. SUPRAMAP, a program that synthesizes large, diverse datasets to help researchers understand the evolution of infectious diseases across hosts and geography, was developed in 2007 by the Museum, The Ohio State University, and the Ohio Superconductor Center. In a recent paper in the journal Cladistics, researchers from these institutions describe how they reconfigured SUPRAMAP’s server to let researchers and public safety officials develop their own applications for the program.

Tags: Our Research, SciCafe

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