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Gemini e-Newscast #113

November 15, 2018

In This e-Newscast:

Tiny Old Star Has Huge Impact

Astronomers use the Gemini Observatory to investigate a tiny star that is likely the oldest known star in the disk of our galaxy. The diminutive star could have a disproportionate impact on our understanding of the age and history of our Milky Way Galaxy. It also provides a unique glimpse into the conditions present in the young Universe shortly after the Big Bang. Read more at
The new discovery is only 14% the size of the Sun and is the new record holder for the star with the smallest complement of heavy elements. Credit: Kevin Schlaufman.

New DRAGraces Release v1.2

A new version of the DRAGraces pipeline is now available. The new version fixes the previously problematic wavelength calibration. Please use version 1.2, or later, from now on. If your analysis depends on an older extraction using DRAGraces, please check if the new code makes a difference with the wavelength solution, especially where the orders are overlapping. If you had issues with previous DRAGraces extraction, please have a second look! In any case, it is always recommended to compare your GRACES extracted spectra using DRAGraces and OPERA (extracted spectra are distributed by the Gemini Observatory Archive) before performing a detailed analysis. (Note that DRAGraces is not a pipeline supported by the Gemini Observatory, and is therefore not following the maintenance and testing standards. Visit the GRACES Data Reduction webpage for details.)

DSSI and `Alopeke on Gemini South and North Simultaneously!

For a few nights at the end of October, both Gemini telescopes were dedicated to diffraction-limited imaging at visible wavelengths. The nights of October 25-28 were the last nights in a block of `Alopeke observing in the North, and the first nights in a similar block of DSSI in the South. Although both are visitor instruments, the highly compact 'Alopeke (a souped-up version of DSSI) is now permanently mounted on Gemini North, nestling in the gap between the Instrument Support Structure and the Calibration Unit.

Plans are being made to mount a clone of 'Alopeke – known as Zorro – in the same location at Gemini South. Both names mean "fox," in Hawaiian and Spanish languages, respectively, because these instruments rely on speed and cunning: fast readout and very clever data processing to give diffraction-limited images in visible light.

MAROON-X on the Way!

MAROON-X is a new instrument in construction at the University of Chicago which is expected to have the capability to detect Earth-size planets in the habitable zones of mid- to late-M dwarf stars using the radial velocity method. The instrument is a high-resolution, bench-mounted spectrograph designed to deliver 1 meter/second radial velocity precision for M dwarfs down to and beyond V = 16. In order for MAROON-X to come to Gemini as a Visiting Instrument, the team constructed a Front End which will fit on the bottom instrument port at Gemini North and hold the fiber that will run down to the spectrograph located in the pier lab below.

The Front End components are now integrated and tested at the lab in the William Eckhardt Research Center in Chicago, and the pre-ship acceptance test was held at the end of last month. Although the report is still being finalized, the results look good, and we are looking forward to helping the team commission the Front End on the telescope in December using a simple detector, so that we are ready to commission the MAROON-X spectrograph when it arrives next year.
Andreas Seifahrt and Julian Stuermer (Univ. of Chicago) pose with the Front End unit that will attach to the Gemini Instrument Support Structure to position the optical fiber and provide atmospheric dispersion correction for MAROON-X.
The internal organs of the MAROON-X Front End in the lab in Chicago, preparing for the acceptance test. Credit: Andreas Seifahrt (Univ. of Chicago)

U.S. Congressional Delegation Visits Cerro Pachón

On October 19, 2018, Gemini Observatory hosted a summit tour on Cerro Pachón for a U.S. Congressional delegation comprised of staffers from the House and Senate – Leslie Albright (House), Allen Cutler (Senate), Jean Toal Eisen (Senate), and Blaise Sheridan (Senate).

Also attending the tour were Anne Kinney (NSF Director for Mathematical & Physical Head of Astronomical Sciences), Richard Green (NSF Director of the Astronomical Sciences Division), Robert Moller (NSF Office of Legislative and Public Affairs), Jeremy Weirich (AURA VP for Corporate Strategy), and Andrew Griffin (US-Chile Embassy). The group was very engaged and impressed by Gemini's world-class facilities, agile operations, and stunning science results. Thanks to everyone who contributed to making this important event a success!
Photo credit: Manuel Paredes.



Resurgence of High-Resolution Spectroscopy at Gemini: A NOAO Mini-Workshop

The U.S. National Gemini Office (US NGO) will host a mini-workshop on Gemini high-resolution spectroscopy at the January 2019 AAS meeting in Seattle. The splinter session will focus on the science opportunities made available by spectrographs spanning the optical to mid-infrared, including the visitor instruments GRACES, IGRINS, and MAROON-X, as well as the new facility optical spectrograph GHOST.  

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