Washington, DC— Tiny beads of volcanic glass found on the lunar surface during the Apollo missions are a sign that fire fountain eruptions took place on the Moon’s surface. Now,...
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Daily Mail: A shockwave from a catastrophic supernova explosion may have triggered the birth of our Solar System when it crashed into a cloud of gas. Scientists studying this process, Carnegie's...
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Science Magazine talks to Alan Boss about how Jupiter and Saturn may have formed. More
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Are today’s minerals a predictable consequence of the planet’s chemical makeup? Or are they the result of chance events? What if we were to look out at the cosmos and spot another Earth-...
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Washington, DC— New work from Carnegie's Alan Boss and Sandra Keiser provides surprising new details about the trigger that may have started the earliest phases of planet formation in our...
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New work from Carnegie's Alan Boss and Sandra Keiser provides surprising new details about the trigger that may have started the earliest phases of planet formation in our solar system.
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Washington, DC— New work from an international team of researchers including Carnegie’s Lara Wagner improves our understanding of the geological activity that is thought to have formed...
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Tiny beads of volcanic glass found on the lunar surface during the Apollo missions are a sign that fire fountain eruptions took place on the Moon’s surface. Now, scientists from Brown...
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Carbon plays an unparalleled role in our lives: as the element of life, as the basis of most of society’s energy, as the backbone of most new materials, and as the central focus in efforts to understand Earth’s variable and uncertain climate. Yet in spite of carbon’s importance,...
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Carnegie's Paul Butler has been leading work on a multiyear project to carry out the first reconnaissance of all 2,000 nearby Sun-like stars within 150 light-years of the solar system (1 lightyear is about 9.4 trillion kilometers). His team is currently monitoring about 1,700 stars, including 1...
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High-elevation, low relief surfaces are common on continents. These intercontinental plateaus influence river networks, climate, and the migration of plants and animals. How these plateaus form is not clear. Researchers are studying the geodynamic processes responsible for surface uplift in the...
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What sets George Cody apart from other geochemists is his pioneering use of sophisticated techniques such as enormous facilities for synchrotron radiation, and sample analysis with nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to characterize hydrocarbons. Today, Cody  applies these techniques...
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With the proliferation of discoveries of planets orbiting other stars, the race is on to find habitable worlds akin to the Earth. At present, however, extrasolar planets less massive than Saturn cannot be reliably detected. Astrophysicist John Chambers models the dynamics of these newly found giant...
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Cosmochemist Larry Nittler studies extraterrestrial materials, including meteorites and interplanetary dust particles (IDPs), to understand the formation of the Solar System, the galaxy, and the universe and to identify the materials involved. He is particularly interested in developing new...
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Washington, DC— In the race to discover a proposed ninth planet in our Solar System, Carnegie’s Scott Sheppard and Chadwick Trujillo of Northern Arizona University have observed several never-before-...
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According to one longstanding theory, our Solar System’s formation was triggered by a shock wave from an exploding supernova. It injected material from the exploding star into a neighboring...
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Washington, D.C.—On March 17, the tiny MESSENGER spacecraft completed its primary mission to orbit and observe the planet Mercury for one Earth-year. The bounty of surprises from the mission has...
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Photo is by Cindy Werner, courtesy of Alaska Volcano Observatory.
February 4, 2020

Washington, DC— A new approach to analyzing seismic data reveals deep vertical zones of low seismic velocity in the plumbing system underlying Alaska’s Cleveland volcano, one of the most-active of the more than 70 Aleutian volcanoes. The findings are published in Scientific Reports by Helen Janiszewski, recently of Carnegie, now at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, and Carnegie’s Lara Wagner and Diana Roman. 

Arc volcanoes like Cleveland form over plate boundaries where one tectonic plate slides beneath another. They are linked to the Earth’s mantle by complex subsurface structures that cross the full thickness of the planet's crust. These

Photo credit: Max Hirshfeld Studio, courtesy of AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives
January 31, 2020

Washington, D.C.— Carnegie trustee emeritus Frank Press, a National Medal of Science laureate and former president of the National Academy of Sciences, died January 29 at his home in Chapel Hill, N.C. He was 95. Press was active on the Carnegie board of trustees for 14 years and was the Cecil and Ida Green Senior Fellow at the institution’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism from 1993 to 1997.

A distinguished geophysicist whose contributions to plate tectonics revolutionized the field, Press authored more than 150 papers and co-authored two foundational Earth science textbooks. He also made tremendous contributions to science policy and helped shape the U.S.

Carnegie Earth and Planets Director Richard Carlson
January 21, 2020

Washington, DC — Richard Carlson, director of Carnegie’s Earth and Planets division, has been chosen to receive the Geochemical Society’s highest honor, the Victor Moritz Goldschmidt Award, in recognition of his forefront research into the formation of the Solar System and the geologic history of the Earth, the society announced Tuesday.

The society will present the award to Carlson at the Goldschmidt Conference, to be held in Honolulu in June.

“I am deeply honored to receive the V.M. Goldschmidt Award, which recognizes our efforts to understand the origin and evolution of Earth’s continental crust on Earth and the consequences of its formation

Artist’s concept by Robin Dienel, courtesy of Carnegie Institution for Science
January 14, 2020

Washington, DC— A “cold Neptune” and two potentially habitable worlds are part of a cache of five newly discovered exoplanets and eight exoplanet candidates found orbiting nearby red dwarf stars, which are reported in The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series by a team led by Carnegie’s Fabo Feng and Paul Butler.

The two potentially habitable planets are orbiting GJ180 and GJ229A, which are among the nearest stars to our own Sun, making them prime targets for observations by next-generation space- and land-based telescopes.  They are both super-Earths with at least 7.5 and 7.9 times our planet’s mass and orbital periods of 106 and 122 days

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Carbon plays an unparalleled role in our lives: as the element of life, as the basis of most of society’s energy, as the backbone of most new materials, and as the central focus in efforts to understand Earth’s variable and uncertain climate. Yet in spite of carbon’s importance, scientists remain largely ignorant of the physical, chemical, and biological behavior of many of Earth’s carbon-bearing systems. The Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO) is a global research program to transform our understanding of carbon in Earth. At its heart, DCO is a community of scientists, from biologists to physicists, geoscientists to chemists, and many others whose work crosses these

Carnegie scientists participate in NASA's Kepler missions, the first mission capable of finding Earth-size planets around other stars. The centuries-old quest for other worlds like our Earth has been rejuvenated by the intense excitement and popular interest surrounding the discovery of hundreds of planets orbiting other stars. There is now clear evidence for substantial numbers of three types of exoplanets; gas giants, hot-super-Earths in short period orbits, and ice giants.

The challenge now is to find terrestrial planets (those one half to twice the size of the Earth), especially those in the habitable zone of their stars where liquid water and possibly life might exist.

Andrew Steele joins the Rosetta team as a co-investigator working on the COSAC instrument aboard the Philae lander (Fred Goesmann Max Planck Institute - PI). On 12 November 2014 the Philae system will be deployed to land on the comet and begin operations. Before this, several analyses of the comet environment are scheduled from an approximate orbit of 10 km from the comet. The COSAC instrument is a Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer that will measure the abundance of volatile gases and organic carbon compounds in the coma and solid samples of the comet.

Carnegie was once part of the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI).Carnegie Science at Broad Branch Road was one of the  founding members of the 1998 teams who partnered with NASA, and remained a member through several Cooperative Agreement Notices (CANS):  CAN 1  from 1998 - 2003, CAN 3 from 2003 - 2008, and CAN 5 from 2009 - 2015. The Carnegie team focused on life’s chemical and physical evolution, from the interstellar medium, through planetary systems, to the emergence and detection of life by studying extrasolar planets, Solar System formation, organic rich primitive planetary bodies, prebiotic molecular synthesis through catalyzing with

While the planets in our Solar System are astonishingly diverse, all of them move around the Sun in approximately the same orbital plane, in the same direction, and primarily in circular orbits. Over the past 25 years Butler's work has focused on improving the measurement precision of stellar Doppler velocities, from 300 meters per second in the 1980s to 1 meter a second in the 2010s to detect planets around other stars. The ultimate goal is to find planets that resemble the Earth.

Butler designed and built the iodine absorption cell system at Lick Observatory, which resulted in the discovery of 5 of the first 6 known extrasolar planets.  This instrument has become the de

What sets George Cody apart from other geochemists is his pioneering use of sophisticated techniques such as enormous facilities for synchrotron radiation, and sample analysis with nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to characterize hydrocarbons. Today, Cody  applies these techniques to analyzing the organic processes that alter sediments as they mature into rock inside the Earth and the molecular structure of extraterrestrial organics.

Wondering about where we came from has occupied the human imagination since the dawn of consciousness. Using samples from comets and meteorites, George Cody tracks the element carbon as it moves from the interstellar medium, through

Geochemist Steven Shirey is researching how Earth's continents formed. Continent formation spans most of Earth's history, continents were key to the emergence of life, and they contain a majority of Earth’s resources. Continental rocks also retain the geologic record of Earth's ancient geodynamic processes.

Shirey’s past, current, and future studies reflect the diversity of continental rocks, encompassing a range of studies that include rocks formed anywhere from the deep mantle to the surface crust. His work spans a wide range of geologic settings such as volcanic rocks in continental rifts (giant crustal breaks where continents split apart), ancient and

Alan Boss is a theorist and an observational astronomer. His theoretical work focuses on the formation of binary and multiple stars, triggered collapse of the presolar cloud that eventually made  the Solar System, mixing and transport processes in protoplanetary disks, and the formation of gas giant and ice giant protoplanets. His observational works centers on the Carnegie Astrometric Planet Search project, which has been underway for the last decade at Carnegie's Las Campanas Observatory in Chile.

While fragmentation is universally recognized as the dominant formation mechanism for binary and multiple stars, there are still major questions. The most important of these