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Gemini e-Newscast #109

July 19, 2018

In This e-Newscast:

Elusive Intermediate Mass Black Hole Revealed by Cosmic Belch

The frustrating search for intermediate mass black holes is advancing thanks to Gemini observations of a “belch” which escaped when a black hole devoured a star. The black hole powering the blast weighed in at a few tens of thousand solar masses and is quite possibly a missing link between supermassive and stellar mass black holes. Read more here.
Gemini South GMOS spectrum (black line) of the nuclear region of the host galaxy of the observed off-center tidal disruption event, believed to be caused by an intermediate mass black hole. The best-fit model of the spectrum is shown in green, with the contribution from the stars alone indicated in red. The gray areas mark regions where the spectrum was affected by atmospheric absorption and the GMOS CCD gap. This Gemini spectrum was used to extract the stellar population properties and kinematics of the galaxy in which this unusual event occurred.

Science and Evolution of Gemini Observatory Conference Only Days Away!

The Science and Evolution of Gemini Observatory meeting is only a few days away and the response has been fantastic. We have exceeded our target attendance and expect well over 100 users, stakeholders and staff to participate in the meeting from July 23-26th. As part of the meeting watch for a major announcement regarding KASI (Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute). Finally, the Twitter tag for the meeting has changed, it is #SEG2018.

Laura Ferrarese to Continue as Interim Director – For Now

The search for the Gemini Director is quickly coming to a close. We are optimistic that the new Director will be in place by end of summer/early fall this year. Gemini’s current Interim Director, Laura Ferrarese, has agreed to continue serving in this capacity until the new Director is in place. After a year in Hilo, Laura has returned to Victoria, Canada and will continue to lead the observatory from there. “I’m grateful to NRC for allowing me to extend my leave, and I am pleased for the opportunity to continue to work with the Gemini staff, even if I will not be in Hilo for most of the extension,” she adds.

GHOST Update

Bonding and mounting of spectrograph optics for the Gemini High-resolution Optical SpecTrograph (GHOST) is well underway at the National Research Council Canada’s (CNRC-NRC’s) Herzberg Institute (NRC-Herzberg). The vendor completed fabrication of the final optics as well as the fold mirror and the instrument is expected to arrive back at NRC-Herzberg after its silver coating in August. Meanwhile, the blue 4k x 4k and red 6k x 6k science detectors are assembled in their cryostats and ready for testing.
John Pazder, the optical team lead at NRC-Herzberg, poses with the completed GHOST echelle grating in its mount.

Science Operations Specialists: More Than Telescope Operators

A unique aspect of Gemini’s Science Operations Specialists (SOS) positions is the projects they perform throughout the observatory which are aligned with their interests and experience/skills.

A great example is a Principal SOS here at Gemini North: Lucas Fuhrman. Lucas is involved in developing our next-generation acquisition software, or “Pygacq.” Currently, we use a complicated set of code to acquire our targets on the sky. Since this environment is expected to become obsolete within the next few years, we need to maintain our ability to efficiently set up on our targets, which is critical in a queue-based observatory. With Lucas’ expertise he has taken full ownership of this project, under the support and sponsorship of our Science User Support Department. In just over one year, he has completed coding for acquiring images and spectra, including cross-dispersed and MOS modes, for all facility instruments at both Gemini North and South. His is now concentrating on developing the Integral Field Units reconstruction routines for the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrographs (North and South). This project is expected to start testing phases toward the end of Semester 19A.

Although the main responsibilities of an SOS are daily and nightly operations, these special projects are beneficial for both the observatory and the SOSs, who do challenging and interesting work that breaks the routine and promotes engagement.

Bye Bye IGRINS… Hope to See You Back Soon

Last week the visiting high-resolution near-infrared spectrograph IGRINS was taken off the Gemini South telescope for shipping back to the U.S. The IGRINS run was extremely successful thanks to the excellent performance of the instrument and the very smoothly operating IGRINS team.
Greg Mace with “his” instrument on the handling trolley after IGRINS was taken off Gemini South.

GMOS-S Stand Down

This week the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph on Gemini South will come off the telescope for optical maintenance on the collimator. The work will address the effects of the inter-lens oil loss (the “bubble”) that has been developing over time. The expectation is that GMOS-S will be back in business again by the end of August of this year.

An Early Start on 2018B Programs

For various reasons, including weather, target Right Ascensions (RAs), and instrument availability, the regular queue is somewhat thin at the end of Semester 2018A. Therefore, staff have been encouraging Principal Investigators (PIs) and National Gemini Offices (NGOs) to bring observations forward from the B Semester, where their RA distributions make sense, and making an early start on those where time becomes available. Note that on Gemini South, GMOS is currently not available (see above), so we’re particularly looking for observations with FLAMINGOS-2.  Of course this also fits with the new “persistent Band 1s,” for which PIs are able to start their Band 1 observations early (and run on into the subsequent semester). We’re grateful to NGOs and PIs who have taken this opportunity.

Hawaiʻi's Education Leaders Visit Gemini Telescope

On Monday, July 16, leaders from the Hawaiʻi State Department of Education as well as leaders from Kamehameha Schools visited the Gemini North Hilo Base Facility (HBF) and telescope on Maunakea. At the HBF, the group of 21 visited our control room and were briefed on Gemini Observatory. Fritz Klasner, from the Office of Maunakea Management, also briefed the group on the importance of Maunakeaʻs natural resources. Following that, the group made the trek up Maunakea to the Gemini North telescope facility, where the day crew opened the vent gates and took the covers off of our primary mirror. We want to thank Hawaiʻi State Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto and her leadership team, as well as the Kamehameha Schools leadership team for taking time to spend the day with us!
Hawai‘i Department of Education Leadership Team pose for image outside of the Gemini North telescope facility.
Hawai‘i Department of Education Leadership Team pose for image inside of Gemini North facility.
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