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Gemini e-Newscast #100

October 20, 2017

In This e-Newscast:

Astronomers Feast on First Light From Gravitational Wave Event

Gemini Observatory "pulled all of the stops" to bring a gravitational wave source into focus and capture early optical and infrared light from the merger of two neutron stars. The critical ground-based observations spanned almost a month during the summer of 2017 and allowed astronomers to dissect the first electromagnetic light emissions ever associated with a gravitational wave event. More details can be found on the Gemini press release.
The image sequence above shows infrared imaging from the FLAMINGOS-2 imager and spectrograph for a period of over two weeks. The top row features images in the h-band, a shorter (bluer) wavelength of infrared light. The bottom row focuses mostly on k-band images, which are longer (redder) wavelengths of light. This sequence reveals how the object became redder as it faded from view.

Join us in San Francisco for the 2018 Gemini Science Meeting!

The Science and Evolution of Gemini Observatory 2018 conference kicks off with a welcome reception on the evening of July 22nd and runs through July 26th. With San Francisco’s historic Fisherman’s Wharf as a backdrop, this meeting invites the Gemini community to review recent science highlights, identify needs in the context of Gemini’s evolving capabilities, and develop strategies for the future. Mark your calendar now and plan to join us for: user and staff presentations featuring science highlights, instrumentation, observing modes; informal discussions and breakout sessions; a conference dinner; and off-site visits.

Hotel reservations are open now for a limited number of rooms. Conference registration will open at the beginning of January 2018 and a call for abstracts will be sent shortly thereafter.


GeminiFocus Available

The October 2017 issue of GeminiFocus is now available electronically. This issue features the exciting and critical observations that Gemini South made of the optical/infrared emissions from a recent gravitational wave event (shown on the cover). Highlights also include a science feature on research led by Carlos Saffe on heavy element enrichment by a rocky planet of one star in binary system. Look for these stories and more in the October issue.

Note: this issue’s publication was delayed in order to include the gravitational wave story.


Gemini South Shutdown Completed

The annual telescope shutdown is now complete at Gemini South with the main objective achieved – to resolve two outstanding faults on the acquisition & guidance unit (A&G). First, one of the wavefront detectors which was recovered thanks to an in-situ cable repair and second, the linear slide mechanism of the science fold mirror was recovered by installing a new encoder. As a preventive measure all pulleys and belts that drive the science fold linear mechanism were replaced. Apart from these faults (that were affecting regular observing) preventive maintenance was performed on all mechanisms, optical elements were cleaned, and the entire system was thoroughly tested using a large battery of tests. Under our Operations Improvements Program, progress was made on characterizing the A&G vibration environment by confirming that some of the high frequency vibrations are caused by the servo loops and not by external interference.

On October 12th, the A&G system was tested again on-sky, in order to resume regular operations on the following night. Reducing the scope of activities was critical for the successful completion of those tasks that require interruptions to our operations. This time around it was even more important given the critical final integration phase of the Toptica laser, which also required resources. Overall, excellent coordination between the teams led to successful completion on both the laser and A&G work.

Copyright © 2017 Gemini Observatory, All rights reserved.

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