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Gemini e-Newscast July 2020

In This e-Newscast:

Monster Black Hole Found in the Early Universe

Credit: International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/P. Marenfeld
Astronomers have discovered the second most distant quasar ever found, using the international Gemini Observatory and Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO), Programs of NSF’s NOIRLab. It is also the first quasar to receive an indigenous Hawaiian name, Pōniuāʻena. Read the full press release here.

COVID-19 Update

Gemini North continues to conduct limited nighttime operations while Gemini South and the other NOIRLab facilities have remained closed in light of the continued pandemic. All uncompleted (non-ToO) Band 1 programs for 2020A will roll over into the following semester, as usual for Band 1 programs. No special arrangements will be made for Band 2 and 3 programs, and these programs will come to an end when the 2020A semester closes. Additional details are available in the Science Community FAQ linked to on the Gemini home page.

GOGREEN Data Release Workshop Aug 24-25

The Gemini Observations of Galaxies in Rich Early ENvironments (GOGREEN) Survey team will hold a virtual workshop, hosted by the Waterloo Centre for Astrophysics, to present their science results and first public Data Release. The public portion of the meeting will be 10am-2pm EDT on Monday Aug 24, and 10am-12pm EDT on Tuesday Aug 25. To be included on future emails, and to receive the password-protected Zoom link on August 21, please register here. There is no registration fee.

The GOGREEN Survey is a recently completed Large Program using GMOS multi-object spectroscopy and multi-band photometry to study the properties of galaxies in 21 rich groups and clusters at redshifts in the range of 1 to 1.5. The survey also included deep multiwavelength imaging from other ground and space-based (including Spitzer and Hubble) facilities for all systems. The Data Release comprises fully reduced images and spectra, with catalogues of advanced data products including redshifts, line strengths, stellar masses and rest-frame colours.

In addition to a description of the data, the meeting will provide an overview of published and forthcoming science results from the survey. More information about the survey can be found at http://gogreensurvey.ca.

The New Face of International Collaboration

If you were old enough to watch television in the 1970s and 80s in the United States, you probably remember “Hollywood Squares,” the game show where celebrities sat in boxes and tried to answer questions. This form of communication has become a way of life now for international collaborations, although we may not be as quick with the one-liners. In order to keep making progress on important projects despite travel restrictions, we are using videoconferencing more than ever. In this image, you can see scientists and engineers from both Gemini North and South working with staff at the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI) discussing the planned updates to IGRINS-2, the newest version of the Immersion GRating INfrared Spectrograph (IGRINS) currently at Gemini South. IGRINS-2 will be quite similar to IGRINS and will be available 100% of the time at Gemini, but will not travel to other telescopes. In addition to optimizing the optics for the Gemini telescopes, the teams are discussing a number of upgrades and updates to IGRINS-2 made possible thanks to advances in technology since the original IGRINS was built.
Staff from Gemini and KASI discuss proposed design updates for the IGRINS-2 instrument. Credit: Chan Park (KASI)

It’s Official, GIRMOS has a Logo

The Gemini InfraRed Multi-Object Spectrograph (GIRMOS) is a powerful new instrument being designed and built for the Gemini North telescope by a consortium of Canadian Universities including U. Toronto, Dalhousie, Laval, Saint Mary's, UBC, U. Victoria, York, and U. Manitoba, as well as NRC-HAA. This instrument will overcome a key limitation in existing adaptive optics (AO) facilities; where existing integral field spectrographs are designed to observe only single objects with adequate atmospheric correction, GIRMOS is being designed to have the ability to observe multiple sources simultaneously with high spatial resolution while obtaining spectra at the same time. (For more info, see Sivanandam et al., Proceedings of the SPIE, 2018). GIRMOS is still in the early stages of development, and the team, led by Principal Investigator Suresh Sivanandam (University of Toronto, Dunlap Institute) and Project Engineer Darren Erickson (HAA), just passed their conceptual design review last September. Now they have achieved another important milestone – the selection of a logo!

The logo shown below received the most votes in a logo design contest sponsored by the PI. The contest, open to all GIRMOS and Gemini staff, received a number of really outstanding submissions. The chosen logo was designed by talented artist and research associate Anne-Sophie Poulin-Girard at Laval University who will not only win bragging rights for this attractive design, but will also receive a gift card. In addition, the brave PI, Suresh, has volunteered to get a black and white tattoo of the logo on his arm!
The new GIRMOS logo, designed by Anne-Sophie Poulin-Girard (Laval University)

Comet NEOWISE

Credit: International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/J. Chu
Comet NEOWISE — technically known as C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) — is visible in this spectacular image of the pre-dawn sky to the right (East) of the Gemini North telescope on Maunakea in Hawai‘i. First discovered by the NEOWISE project using the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer space telescope in March 2020, the comet reached its perihelion on July 3. Its nucleus is thought to be about 5 km (3 miles) across. The curving golden tail of C/2020 F3 visible in this image is composed of gas and dust left behind as the comet swept through the inner Solar System. While creating a spectacle for stargazers, the comet’s passage close to the Sun will not happen again for another 6,800 years. Fortunately, there is still a chance to enjoy the show — Comet NEOWISE should be visible in the northern hemisphere’s evening sky for the rest of July.

The GEMMA Podcasts

Caught up on the GEMMA podcasts? GEMMA interns Chance Spencer and Odysseus Quarles have interviewed scientists on topics including multi-messenger astronomy, Interstellar Comet 2I/Borisov, and Gemini on Jupiter. Click here to listen.
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