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Gemini e-Newscast #91

January 19, 2017

In This e-Newscast:

Shedding (Multi-wavelength) Light on a Fast Radio Burst

Gemini Observatory provides critical rapid follow up observations of a Fast Radio Burst – revealing the first details on a burst’s distant extragalactic host.

The opening press conference at the meeting of the American Astronomical Society earlier this month presented an international team’s research using multi-wavelength observations to pinpoint and characterize a Fast Radio Burst (FRB) for the first time. After the burst’s location was determined using the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA), Gemini North followed up with spectroscopy and imaging. The Gemini data revealed a dwarf galaxy host, only about 1% the mass of the Milky Way Galaxy, some three billion light-years away. The fact that this FRB repeated (unique among known FRBs) made it possible to determine its location.

The Gemini characterization of the host galaxy was published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, and accompanied the research team’s results on a campaign to precisely locate the FRB, which was published in the journal Nature.

"The collaboration of Gemini working with radio telescopes around the world, each looking at the Universe in such different ways, is what allowed us to make this breakthrough," said Shami Chatterjee, of Cornell University who led the research. "The simple fact that we have uncovered an extragalactic host for a fast radio burst is a huge advance in our understanding," he adds. More details can be found in the Gemini press release.
Gemini composite image of the field around FRB 121102 (indicated). The dwarf host galaxy was imaged, and spectroscopy performed, using the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph (GMOS) on the Gemini North telescope on Maunakea in Hawai'i. Data was obtained on October 24-25 and November 2, 2016. Video animation also available at press release URL above. Credit: Gemini Observatory/AURA/NSF/NRC.

Large and Long Program Letters of Intent Due

Gemini Observatory announces the opportunity for new Large and Long Program proposals, with observations beginning in the 2017B semester.  Letters of intent are due February 1, 2017.  Further information on Large and Long Programs, the proposal process, and specific instrument and target availability to the 2017 proposal cycle is available on the Large and Long Program webpages.

Feedback Requested on Phase I/II Process and Tools

Gemini is starting a project to significantly reimagine our proposal and observation preparation process and tools. We invite feedback from our user community.

If you can participate in an approximately 30 minute interview about your use of the current tools, then please sign up at

You may also fill out the following short (5-10 minute) questionnaire before January 31, 2017 at

GHOST Starts 2017 With Inertia

The Cassegrain unit for Gemini’s next new instrument, the Gemini High-resolution Optical SpecTrograph (GHOST), will reach the midpoint of its construction phase in February. Nearly all of the Cassegrain unit’s mechanical components are manufactured and the build is coming together nicely. The Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO) is the lead contractor on the GHOST project and they intend to ship this Cassegrain unit, along with a prototype optical cable, for early testing at Gemini South by the end of this year.
The GHOST Cassegrain Integral Field Unit positioner sub-assembly on the orange tilt table (left) and the ballast frame sub-assembly (right) in AAO lab. Credit: AAO

Featured Image: Star-forming Region GGD 27

Reflection nebula GGD 27. This near-infrared image was obtained using FLAMINGOS-2, the infrared imager and spectrograph on the Gemini South telescope in Chile. It is a color composite made using four filters: Y (blue), J (cyan), H (green), and Ks (red). The total integration for all filters is just over one hour. The image is 4.6 x 3.5 arcminutes in size and is rotated 35 degrees clockwise from North is up and East is to the left. Image Credit: Gemini Observatory/AURA. More details (and high-resolution download) can be found on the Gemini image release.

GeminiFocus Year in Review and January 2017 Issues Available

The electronic Year in Review (2016) and January 2017 issues of GeminiFocus are now available online.

Gemini “On Tour” – Past and Future Conferences – January 2017

Past: Gemini staff were pleased to meet, greet, and work with with many of our users at the recent AAS meeting in Grapevine, Texas. The Gemini booth, which was part of a larger NSF/AURA exhibit area, hosted multiple one-on-one sessions on data reduction, surveys of web interactions, and sharing of Gemini’s variety of innovative, flexible, and efficient modes of proposing and observing.

Future: From January 23-26 over a half-dozen staff from Gemini are scheduled to participate in the Chilean SOCHIAS (Sociedad Chilena de Astronomía) meeting at the Marbella Resort in Maitencillo, Chile. Gemini staff are looking forward to meeting with many of our Chilean users, so look for our booth and come pick up materials or bring us your questions, suggestions or just come chat!
The Gemini booth at the January 2017 AAS meeting in Grapevine Texas. Here, Alison Peck (right) shares information on observing modes, while André-Nicolas Chené (left) answers a user’s questions.

The Skies Over Gemini South

Gemini South Communications Coordinator Manuel Paredes recently wrote and published a book of his photographs titled, Más Allá de las Estrellas (Beyond the Stars). This is the first compilation of nighttime photography from the Elqui Valley and the vicinity of the Gemini South telescope. Manuel says he was motivated because he wanted, “ spread the wonders of the Elqui Valley night sky to Chilean students who may not have been exposed to the first and newly dubbed International Dark Sky Sanctuary.” This is the first publication of its kind produced in Chile, and has since been distributed free-of-charge to local schools and public libraries thanks to the financial support of the Consejo de la Cultura y las Artes of the Chilean Government. Click here to experience this stunningly beautiful book online!
Cover of Más Allá de las Estrellas
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