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Gemini e-Newscast #127

January 21, 2020

In This e-Newscast:

Observations from the international Gemini Observatory, a program of NSF’s National Optical Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory, have allowed astronomers to pinpoint the location of a Fast Radio Burst in a nearby galaxy — making it the closest known example to Earth and only the second repeating burst source to have its location pinpointed in the sky. The source of this burst of radio waves is located in an environment radically different from that seen in previous studies. This discovery challenges researchers’ assumptions on the origin of these already enigmatic extragalactic events. Follow this link to read the full press release.

Letters of Intent due for 2020 Large and Long Programs

Letters of Intent are due February 4, 2020 for new Large and Long Programs. See the current LLP Call for Proposals for more information.

Registration Open for 2020 Gemini Science Meeting in Seoul, Korea

Registration is now open for the Gemini Observatory 20th Anniversary Science Meeting, to be held in Seoul, Korea, June 21-25, 2020.  Early registration at a discounted rate is available until February 28th. See the meeting website to register and submit your abstract.

Meeting with Governor of Hawai’i David Ige

On January 6th 2020, Gemini Director Jennifer Lotz, along with AURA president Matt Mountain, NSF’s National Optical Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory Director Patrick McCarthy, and AURA Vice-President Jeremy Weirich, presented Hawai’i Governor David Ige with a Gemini North image of the interacting Heron Galaxy pair in appreciation for his support of astronomy in Hawai’i. Credit: Governor David Ige's Office.

GHOST Update

For the past six months, the assembly, alignment, and testing of Gemini’s High-resolution Optical SpecTrograph (GHOST), in Victoria, British Columbia Canada, have gone very close to plan. Coming to the Gemini South telescope, GHOST was designed, and is being built and tested, by a partnership of organizations: Australian Astronomical Optics (AAO) – Macquarie University, the National Research Council Canada (NRC) – Herzberg, the Australian National University (ANU), and Software Design Ideas. The spectrograph has performed excellently during the Acceptance Testing of the past few months (see sample spectra below). Test results for resolution, throughput, and stability all look great in the lab. The team will repeat the verification of these and other performance requirements after reassembly at Gemini South. AAO previously shipped the Cassegrain Acquisition Unit to Chile from Australia and tested it in advance of the upcoming arrival of the spectrograph. After the spectrograph, slit viewer, and optical cable arrive in Chile, we expect to have all sub-assemblies of the GHOST instrument fully integrated and functioning during the second quarter of CY2020 in preparation for commissioning.
Blue and red GHOST images of a Mercury lamp, with the spectral orders labeled and 1.1 x free spectral range in each order highlighted. Continuous wavelength coverage from 359 nm to well beyond 1 micron (Requirement: 363 - 950 nm). Significant wavelength overlap between orders (with overlapping orders between arms). Credit: Greg Burley

The GEMMA Podcast

In episode six of the GEMMA Podcast, GEMMA intern Chance Spencer interviews Joshua Chamot, Public Affairs Specialist at the US National Science Foundation. Topics include the changing media landscape for space science, how multi-messenger astronomy plays into the NSF’s Big 10 Ideas, and the success of the November 2019 GEMMA Communication Summit. Click this link to listen.

Gemini Sessions at AAS235

At the recent meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Honolulu, Hawai’i, Gemini staff and science users held two very successful splinter sessions. The first, titled “New Science Opportunities with the Next Generation Gemini North Adaptive Optics Facility,” was led by Julia Scharwaechter and focused on the new queue-operated multi-conjugate adaptive optics (AO) facility being designed for Gemini North (GNAO). For more information about GNAO and the other projects in the GEMMA program, see this link. The second session was organized jointly by the NSF’s National Optical Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory’s Community Science Data Center and the international Gemini Observatory, and hosted several exciting talks in the session titled “Planets, Exoplanets, and Planet Formation with Gemini Large and Long Programs (LLPs).” Learn more about the LLPs and how to propose here. See the second item of this newscast for the deadline for Letters of Intent.
Left: Julia Scharwaechter (Gemini) introduces the GNAO session. Center: Jessica Lu (UC Berkeley) describes an exciting potential science case. Right: John Blakeslee (Gemini) summarizes the Gemini AO experience that GNAO is building on. Credit: Alison Peck
Gemini users present the results of their Large and Long Programs. Left: Elizabeth Matthews (MIT Kavli Institute). Center: Henry Hsieh (Planetary Science Institute). Right: Christine Chen (Space Telescope Science Institute). Credit: Joy Pollard
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