Staff Profiles

Rebecca Oppenheimer

Curator, Department of Astrophysics, Division of Physical Sciences
Professor, Richard Gilder Graduate School

Staff Page:
Curriculum Vitae (short version)
  • Education

      • Ph.D. in Astronomy, California Institute of Technology, 1999
      • B.A. in Physics, Columbia College, Columbia University, 1994
  • Research Interests

    Research Interests

      Dr. Oppenheimer is a comparative exoplanetary scientist: she studies planets orbiting stars other than the Sun. Her optics laboratory in the Rose Center for Earth and Space is the birthplace of a number of new astronomical instruments designed to tackle the problem of directly seeing and taking spectra of nearby solar systems. In March 2004, Dr. Oppenheimer deployed the world's most sensitive coronagraph at the AEOS Telescope in Maui. See for more information. In June 2008, her 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. Project 1640 became the first research effort to conduct a reconnaissance of all the known planets in another planetary system in March 2013.   

      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. She 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.

  • Publications

  • Teaching Experience

    Teaching Experience