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Gemini e-Newscast #75

September 17, 2015


Gemini Leads in Exoplanet Studies and Offers Exciting Opportunities for Users

In This e-Newscast:

Best View of an Exoplanet Orbit in Motion

Observations using the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) provide images and polarization measurements over 1.5 years that probe angular scales smaller than ever before, from ground or space, of the β Pictoris (β Pic) system. The dynamical interactions of the exoplanet, β Pic b and surrounding debris disk, test planet formation models. A further advantage of the new data is to observe the disk and planet together over time, reducing errors in measurements of their relative positions. Maxwell Millar-Blanchaer (University of Toronto) and colleagues model the disk, better determine the planet’s orbit, and measure the mass of the central star accurately in a new paper published in the Astrophysical Journal. A joint University of Toronto/Gemini press release including animations of the orbit is posted here.

The 2016A Call for Proposals Is Open

New for the 2016A semester are the DSSI optical speckle camera and the near-infrared spectrograph Phoenix as visiting instruments at Gemini South. TEXES and GRACES will again be offered at Gemini North. Complete information about proposing is posted on the Gemini website (which includes links to the visiting instruments mentioned above). Deadlines vary with partner country and start as early as September 25, so check with your National Gemini Office (or the Gemini website link above) for your deadline.

Fast Turnaround Coming to Gemini South

The Fast Turnaround program will soon be extended for observations from the Gemini South telescope. The expected first proposal deadline will be the end of October, for observations to begin in December 2015. Check the Gemini website in early October for the full call for proposals, which will include information about instrument availability. Fast Turnaround continues on Gemini North, with the next proposal deadline at the end of this month. Read the current Fast Turnaround call for proposals here.

Steps Toward Base Facility Operations

A first test on the road to full remote operations of the Gemini telescopes from the base facilities is in progress. Currently, staff at Gemini North are trying to stay confined to the control room on Maunakea during nighttime observations, relying on the tools developed for Base Facility Operations to control systems, check weather, and carry out their normal duties. The next edition of the GeminiFocus newsletter, to be released in early October, will have more information about this major project.

Gemini North's Solar Connection

Gemini has installed the world's highest rooftop mounted photovoltaic solar power system connected to a power grid on the roof of the Gemini North telescope building on Maunakea. The system is expected to provide about 10% of Gemini's power needs on the mountain and should be online in the next month. Learn more at:
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