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Gemini e-Newscast #68

February 24, 2015

In This e-Newscast:

A New Low-Luminosity Cluster in the Outskirts of the Milky Way

New discoveries, and detailed measurement, of the stellar populations in the outer reaches of the Milky Way reveal the history of our Galaxy. Dongwon Kim (Australian National University) and collaborators contribute to our understanding by reporting on the discovery of a faint, low-density stellar cluster, called Kim 2, in the outer Milky Way halo. The cluster is ten-times more distant than typical globular clusters and shows signs of having lost significant mass. Measurements of metallicity suggest that Kim 2 was previously located in a dwarf Milky Way satellite galaxy and only recently accreted into the halo of our Galaxy. The cluster was discovered using the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) at CTIO, with confirmation and follow-up observations (see figure) using GMOS on Gemini South. Full results are posted in a preprint and will be published in the Astrophysical Journal. Look for a Gemini press release later this week.
GMOS image of Kim 2, in g band. The image is 4 arcminutes across.

Abstract Deadline for Future and Science Meeting is March 4

The abstract and early registration deadlines for the Future and Science of Gemini meeting are coming up soon, on March 4. We welcome abstracts on all Gemini science topics, and also on instrumentation and operations issues. Full information is linked from the meeting home page. We look forward to seeing you in Toronto, Canada, June 14–18!

First Fast Turnaround Proposals Accepted, and New Call is Open

The first monthly cycle of Fast Turnaround (FT) call for proposals elicited a healthy response, with 17 eligible proposals received (for an oversubscription factor of ~3). Following the submission deadline at the end of January, the Principal Investigators (PIs), and designated co-Investigators, then had the first two weeks of February to review other proposals received during this cycle. After the review deadline Gemini staff checked the top-ranked proposals for technical feasibility, and the top seven were accepted for observations – to begin on March 9th. PIs were notified of the outcome on February 20th, a three-week turnaround time since the January 31st deadline. The current call for proposals is open, with a deadline of February 28th for observations to begin in April. For regular updates on the program, check the FT news page.

New Science Software Blog

We are experimenting with a science software blog for users, National Gemini Offices, and staff to help communicate plans for, and progress on, software changes. You can find it at Blog entries are open to comments, and you can direct general comments about these issues to Andy Stephens.

Gemini Instrument Feasibility Studies

Gemini received eight proposals in response to the Request for Proposals (RfP) to conduct Gemini Instrument Feasibility Studies (GIFS).  An independent review panel, that included representation from the Gemini Board, the Gemini Science and Technology Advisory Committee (STAC), and the community, evaluated each proposal against the stated selection criteria and submitted their recommendation to Gemini’s Director, Markus Kissler-Patig. Markus then reviewed the panel’s recommendations and approved a number of studies for contracts. Contract negotiations begin this week and we expect all studies to start in March. We will announce the selected teams and studies once contracts are complete.
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