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Gemini e-Newscast #104

February 20, 2018

In This e-Newscast:

Shining a Light on Dim Galactic Neighbors

By measuring the brightness of about a dozen stars, lingering just outside of our galaxy, a team of astronomers believe they have solved a nearby intergalactic mystery.  The researchers exposed the identities of three ultra-faint dwarf galaxy candidates using the Gemini South telescope. The team (led by Dr. Blair Conn, Australia) reports that the objects appear to be loose clusters of stars, not dwarf galaxies as some had previously believed. This finding has profound ramifications on the quantity of cold dark matter around our Milky Way and, by implication, other galaxies. For more see the Web Feature
GMOS image of Eridanus III which was previously considered a dwarf galaxy candidate, but now identified as a star cluster in the B. C. Conn et al. paper.

GHOST Cassegrain Unit Delivered (and more…)

Delivery and testing of the Cassegrain Unit began in mid-January, while work progressed on the spectrograph at the NRC-Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics (NRC-Herzberg) in Victoria, Canada. A pair of trucks delivered the Cassegrain Unit to the Cerro Pachón summit which was received by the Gemini and Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO) teams who unpacked and assembled the unit.
Left: Delivery of the GHOST Cassegrain Unit to Gemini South. Right: John Bassett, Gemini GHOST systems engineer and Gabriella Baker, AAO Project Manager push the Cassegrain Unit into the Gemini South facilities.
Meanwhile, in the northern hemisphere, Manuel Lazo, Gemini GHOST project engineer spent nearly two weeks working with the NRC-Herzberg spectrograph team. Other ongoing work includes detector testing, and the arrival of the red camera field lens and all of the blue camera optics at the NRC-Herzberg.
Left: Completed relay mirror which is currently undergoing testing. Right: The GHOST grating support.
The GHOST team is looking forward to the next on-sky opportunities, integration of the internal Gemini software, and the spectrograph’s arrival from the NRC-Herzberg. 

This is just the beginning!

OCTOCAM Preliminary Design Review and Update

It has been a busy start to 2018 for the OCTOCAM project! In January, information on the OCTOCAM instrument and related science was presented by OCTOCAM Project Manager Pete Roming (Southwest Research Institute) at the 231st American Astronomical Society (AAS) meeting.  

Shortly thereafter, the OCTOCAM team held a Quarterly Review Meeting at FRACTAL (a private technological company in Madrid, Spain, responsible for the instrument’s opto-mechanical design and construction), as well as at George Washington University, USA. The aim of the meeting was to review progress that the OCTOCAM team has made on the instrument build and decide on a viable Preliminary Design Review (PDR) date.

As a result, the PDR has been scheduled to take place on April 3-4 at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in San Antonio, Texas. The OCTOCAM team, staff from Gemini North and South, as well as the External Review Committee will all attend. We look forward to the outcome of the PDR and the project progressing to the Critical Design Stage.

Science and Evolution of Gemini 2018 Includes Workshops

Registration is now open for workshops at the Science and Evolution of Gemini 2018 conference. Below are brief descriptions and a registration link for each workshop. Workshop registration fees cover the cost of room rentals and AV equipment; thus, fees will be lower if more people register.

Those who register for a workshop(s) will be notified when the workshop fee has been set and the payment page is available.

Data Reduction Workshop (Up to $35)
Please suggest a topic

Speed Collaboration (Up to $30, maximum 40 participants)
Speed collaboration involves  one-on-one, low-pressure, 5-minute conversations that follow a structure carefully designed to help you figure out your overlapping areas of interest and expertise on a rapid timescale. There is nothing to prepare or bring with you except for an open mind. This will be a great way to begin the conference, and hopefully will serve as a jumping off point for continuing conversations throughout the week. More ...

"Under the Hood" Talk (up to $45)
An optional lunchtime session where Long and Long Program PIs will share some of the more practical aspects (from observing preparation to data reduction) that made them successful.

Registration is also open for the general session of the Science and Evolution of Gemini Observatory conference. Early-bird rate of $435 is available through March 31, 2018.

2017 Year in Review Issues of GeminiFocus Available

The annual Year in Review issue of GeminiFocus for 2017 is now available electronically. A limited number of printed copies will also be available soon, request a copy here.

Gemini Undertakes a Major Near-Infrared Spectroscopic Survey of Distant Quasars

Gemini Observatory, using the Gemini Near-Infrared Spectrograph on the Gemini North telescope in Hawai’i, has successfully launched in semester 2017B a Large and Long Program to observe the rest-frame optical spectra of approximately 400 luminous quasars at the epoch of peak quasar activity. Once completed, this six-semester program will have produced the largest and most uniform data set of its kind. The figure shows an example spectrum displaying the critical optical diagnostic lines used for the most reliable determinations of quasar redshift and black hole mass, which in turn will enable and improve a wide range of extragalactic investigations. Learn more here.

New NGO staff visit Gemini N & S

Several National Gemini Offices (NGOs) have recently hired new staff who have come to visit Gemini for training. David Herrera from the US NGO visited Gemini South in November where he focused on data reduction: since he will be helping out with data reduction helpdesk tickets.  Jacqueline Keane from the University of Hawai‘i NGO visited Gemini North in December, primarily to learn about providing phase II support. Mateus Angelo from the Brazilian NGO visited Gemini South in January and focused on Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph (GMOS) support: watch for his posts on the Data Reduction User Forum. Finally, Joel Roediger is currently visiting Gemini South and also focusing on GMOS support.  

Joel Roediger presents a colloquium at Gemini South on his GMOS results related to “Calibrating Stellar Population Synthesis Models with Galactic Globular Clusters.”

Large and Long Program Letters of Intent

We’ve received a healthy response to the Large and Long Program call for proposals with many quality letters of intent received. Teams that have submitted a letter of intent will next be submitting full proposals in late March and the LPTAC will meet on April 24-25 to assess the programs. Successful programs will be notified following the ITAC process in mid-June, with observations beginning in Semester 2018A. 

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