Ben R. Oppenheimer
Ph.D., Astronomy, California Institute of Technology, “Brown Dwarf Companions of Nearby Stars”
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 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. He designed and built this coronagraph in his AMNH lab. See lyot.org for more information.
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.
Dr. Oppenheimer is part of an advisory team setting the scientific goals of some of NASA's most ambitious new space missions, including the search for planets like Earth but orbiting nearby stars. His team at AMNH is also an integral member of the International Gemini Observatory's Planet Imager project.
RECENT SIGNIFICANT PUBLICATIONS
“Coronagraphic search for brown dwarfs and planets around nearby stars” by T. Nakajima, J.-I. Morino, T. Tsuji, H. Suto, M. Ishii, M. Tamura, M. Fukagawa, K. Murakawa, S. Miyama, H. Takami, N. Takato, S. Oya, S. Hayashi, T. Kudo, Y. Itoh, Y. Oasa and B. R. Oppenheimer, Astronomische Nachrichten, Vol. 326, p. 952-957 (2005).
“Polarization Effects in Reflecting Coronagraphs for White Light Applications in Astronomy” by J. B. Breckinridge and B. R. Oppenheimer, The Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 600, p. 1091-1098 (2004).
“The Structure of High Strehl-Ratio Point Spread Functions” by M. D. Perrin, A. Sivaramakrishnan, R. B. Makidon, B. R. Oppenheimer, J. R. Graham, The Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 596, p. 702 (2003).
“Imaging Exoplanets: The Role of Small Telescopes” by B. R. Oppenheimer, A. Sivaramakrishnan and R. B. Makidon in The Future of Small Telescopes, Terry Oswalt, ed., Vol. III, p. 155 (Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers; 2003).
“Searches for Galactic Halo Remnants” by N. C. Hambly and B. R. Oppenheimer, in The Future of Small Telescopes, Terry Oswalt, ed., Vol. III, p. 295 (Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers; 2003).
“A Mini-Survey for Variability in Early L Dwarfs” by F. J. Clarke, B. R. Oppenheimer and C. G. Tinney, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 335, p. 1158 (2002).
“The Potential of Differential Astrometric Interferometry from the High Antarctic Plateau” by J. P. Lloyd, B. R. Oppenheimer, J. R. Graham, Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia, Vol. 19, p. 318 (2002).
“Direct Detection of Galactic Halo Dark Matter” by B. R. Oppenheimer, N. C. Hambly, A. P. Digby, S. T. Hodgkin, and D. Saumon, Science, Vol. 292, p. 698-702 (2001).
“Coronagraphic Survey for Companions of Stars within 8pc” by B. R. Oppenheimer, D. A. Golimowski, S. R. Kulkarni, K. Matthews, T. Nakajima, M. Creech-Eakman, and S. T. Durrance, The Astronomical Journal, Vol. 121, p. 2189 (2001).
“Observations of Ultracool White Dwarfs” by B. R. Oppenheimer, D. Saumon, S. T. Hodgkin, R. F. Jameson, N. C. Hambly, G. Chabrier, A. V. Filippenko, A. L. Coil and M. E. Brown, The Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 550, p. 448 (2001).
EDITORIAL AND ADJUNCT APPOINTMENTS
STUDENTS, POSTDOCS ADVISED
SCIENTIFIC ASSOCIATES AT AMNH