View this email in your browser

Gemini e-Newscast #89

November 16, 2016

In This e-Newscast:

Are All Stars Created Equal?

Researchers using critical Near-infrared Integral Field Spectrograph (NIFS) observations from the Gemini North telescope have found the strongest evidence yet that the formation of massive stars follow a path similar to their lower-mass brethren. The new findings, that include data from Gemini, SOFIA, Calar Alto, and the European Southern Observatory, show that the episodic explosive outbursts within accretion disks, known to occur during the formation of average mass stars like our Sun, also happen in the formation of much more massive stars.

The international team of astronomers (led by Caratti o Garatti, of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, Ireland) published their work in the November 14th issue of the journal Nature Physics. The work presents the first clear case that massive stars (in this case one about 20 times our Sun’s mass) can form from clumpy disks of material – in much the same way as less massive stars. Previously it was thought that the accretion disks seen around lower mass stars would not survive around stars of higher mass due to their strong radiation pressure. Therefore, some other process would be necessary to account for the existence of more massive stars.

See the full Gemini press release here and find the paper online at: (subscription required).
Artist's impression of an accretion burst in a high-mass young stellar object like S255 NIRS 3. Image Credit: Deutsches SOFIA Institut (DSI).

Remote Operations at Gemini South - Closer to the Beach!

On November 14th the Base Facility Operations project culminated in achieving the goal of complete remote operations at the Gemini South telescope (about a year ago this was accomplished at Gemini North). Since then, the night observing team operates from a fully-equipped control room at the base facility in La Serena, Chile – with no personnel at the Cerro Pachón summit at night.

The Base Facility Operations team deserves a huge acknowledgment of appreciation for all of the hard work that was necessary to make this happen.

This milestone required the installation of a vast number of sensors and controls in order to allow the night observers to be fully aware of the sky conditions and technical performance of the remote equipment. In addition, a robust system had to be developed so that even in the worst of circumstances the facility would be safe (think earthquake, complete loss of internet connectivity, power outages, sudden changes in the weather, etc.).

As a side benefit observers can now go to the beach in the afternoon and observe at night!
Support Specialists Javier Fuentes (left) and Joy Chavez (right) operate the Gemini South telescope from the Base Facility in La Serena.

Data Reduction Pipelines for GRACES 

GRACES, Gemini’s shared access to ESPaDOnS, the Canada-France-Hawaii optical spectrograph, now has two working pipelines for data reduction. OPERA, developed at CFHT, runs on all Gemini and CFHT data and the reduced spectra are delivered to PIs via the Gemini Observatory Archive. DRAGRACES is an easy-to-use IDL script that delivers a quick extraction. The latest version of OPERA is not yet public, but DRAGRACES can be accessed from the Gemini Data Reduction forum here.

Gemini and AURA at Society of Women Engineers Annual Conference

In late October, 24 AURA employees, including eight staff from Gemini North and South, participated in the annual Society of Women Engineers (SWE) conference in Philadelphia, PA. This  gathering is the world’s largest conference for female engineers, and aims to stimulate women to achieve their full potential in careers as engineers and STEM leaders. Participants engaged in workshops focusing on personal and professional development, as-well-as a career fair. The Career Fair allowed Gemini and AURA staff to interact with young women engineers and increase awareness of the exciting engineering career opportunities available at astronomical observatories.
Gemini Software Engineer Angelic Ebbers (right) talking with a young engineer and SWE participant at the meeting’s Career Fair event.

Viaje al Universo in La Serena

Over 25 scientists, engineers, and educators from Gemini and many of the observatories throughout the Región de Coquimbo participated in the 2016 edition of Gemini’s Viaje al Universo program. This year’s program offered a variety of activities, including lectures, hands-on workshops, tours of the telescope and base facilities, as-well-as a Careers in Astronomy Panel Discussion for students and teachers. The Viaje program expanded its “traditional” programming beyond the usual week-long event to span the second half of October and early November. This expanded format allowed us to better share the wonders of the Universe with more students, teachers, and families.
Head of Science Operations Rene Rutten (right) with a local Chilean student who won the Astro-costume Contest during the Viaje al Universo opening event.
Copyright © 2016 Gemini Observatory, All rights reserved.

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences 

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp