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Curriculum Vitae (short version)
- Ph.D. in Astronomy, California Institute of Technology, 1999
- B.A. in Physics, Columbia College, Columbia University, 1994
Dr. Oppenheimer is a comparative exoplanetary scientist: he studies planets orbiting stars other than the Sun. This nascent field is so young that much of the work involves developing the techniques needed to see these planets, so that their light can be dissected and analyzed. His optics laboratory in the Rose Center for Earth and Space is the birthplace of a number of new astronomical instruments designed to tackle this problem. In March 2004, Dr. Oppenheimer deployed the world's most sensitive coronagraph at the AEOS Telescope in Maui. See lyot.org for more information. In June 2008, his team deployed an even more precise and sensitive exoplanet imaging system at the Palomar Observatory. This instrument is called Project 1640 and involves researchers at AMNH, Cambridge, Caltech, and NASA/JPL. All of these instrumentation efforts, as well as several others including the starlight suppression system for the International Gemini Observatory Planet Imager
project (GPI), were conducted in Oppenheimer's lab in the Museum's Rose Center for Earth and Space.
Dr. Oppenheimer also works on faint white dwarfs, the remnants of normal stars, and brown dwarfs, star-like objects that are too small to be stars but too large to be called planets. He is the co-discoverer of the first brown dwarf, called Gliese 229B, and was the first scientist to study the atmospheric composition, chemistry and physics of a sub-stellar object outside our solar system.