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Gemini e-Newscast #86

August 16, 2016

In This e-Newscast:

Could Gravitational Wave Events Produce Optical Light Too?

Gemini participated in the search for the visible counterpart to a recent gravitational wave detection, but did not find the intended needle in the very large haystack. The Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detected the gravitational wave event on December 26, 2015, and scientists attributed the signature to the merger of two stellar-mass black holes. The Pan_STARRS1 telescope provided the wide-field optical search for a counterpart, covering about 290 square degrees. Stephen Smartt (Queens University Belfast, UK), Ken Chambers (University of Hawai‘i), and collaborators then used the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph (GMOS) on the Gemini North telescope to obtain spectra of transient sources, and they identified one as a supernova temporally coincident (within about three days) with the gravitational wave event. However, this supernova is not the gravitational wave progenitor, being too distant. A Gemini web feature summarizes the work, and the full results will be published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. A preprint is available here.


A new Frequently Asked Questions document is now available for GMOS on the US National Gemini Office website.  It is a living document designed to make it easy to find answers to some of the common questions received by the Helpdesk or the Data Reduction User’s Forum. Feedback and comments (to Dara Norman at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory) are welcome.

GRACES Data Are Now in the Gemini Observatory Archive

GRACES data are now in the Gemini Observatory Archive (GOA)! You can search directly by selecting GRACES as the instrument option, or find a specific program identification number. Calibrations are not associated with programs, so you will have to get these explicitly, through a search on observation type. More details can be found here.

Gemini Telescopes Shutdowns Overlap

Gemini North is now in a rescheduled shutdown to repair the bottom shutter, which failed in late July. We had continued to observe with some limitations on the elevation range through the night of August 9. The problem stems from the failure of a drive shaft bearing in one of the two driveboxes, similar to the situation with the Gemini North top shutter in 2014. Because of this the previously-scheduled October shutdown was moved up to address the shutter and to perform the planned work on the Acquisition and Guidance (A&G) system and GMOS-North. We expect to be off-sky until the end of this month. The GRACES run that was scheduled during this time has been re-worked with the Canada-France-Hawai‘i telescope and these programs will be continued when the shutdown is complete. 

The regularly-scheduled Gemini South shutdown will begin on August 16 and continue through the 26th. Maintenance of the A&G system is a primary task, along with work on the GMOS-South on-instrument wavefront sensor and facility maintenance.

Gemini’s Southern Hemisphere Monthly Sky Maps Available

Gemini now offers monthly sky maps for stargazers who would like to explore the bright stars and planets visible at (and around) the latitude of Gemini South. The maps are simple enough for beginning skywatchers, and available as printable PDFs each month. The August map is available here:

Wind Blind Repairs at Gemini North

Gemini’s Clayton Ah Hee works on part of the wind blind structure prior to re-installing it on the Gemini North dome in July.
Wind blind #2 is installed on the Gemini North dome, while wind blind #1 (the first to be removed) waits below.

New Gemini Legacy Image - Star Trails over Gemini North

Star trails over Gemini North as captured by Gemini’s Joy Pollard from the catwalk of the University of Hawaii’s 88-inch telescope on Maunakea. Watch for this image in an upcoming Astronomy Picture of the Day! Download full resolution image here.
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