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Gemini e-Newscast November 2020

In This e-Newscast:

COVID-19 Update

The situation in Hawai‘i remains stable. New cases continue to accumulate but at a rate which is not increasing despite the reopening of Hawai`i to visitors from the mainland and Japan. We continue to have a reduced staff presence on Maunakea, and just completed the major telescope maintenance shutdown with a crew of only five staff members. Science operations resumed post-maintenance shutdown but have been impacted by the onset of winter weather. 

In Chile the situation regarding COVID-19 has gradually improved. Gemini-South has returned to regular observations since October 20th. The telescope and its instrumentation have been working well and the weather has been favorable, so good progress has been made in the observing queue.

Maunakea Telescopes Confirm First Brown Dwarf Discovered by Radio Observations

Credit: ASTRON/Danielle Futselaar
For the first time, astronomers have used observations from the LOw Frequency ARray (LOFAR) radio telescope, the NASA IRTF, operated by the University of Hawai‘i, and the international Gemini Observatory, a Program of NSF’s NOIRLab, to discover and characterize a cold brown dwarf. The object, designated BDR J1750+3809, is the first substellar object to be discovered through radio observations. “In this discovery, Gemini was particularly important because it identified the object as a brown dwarf and also gave us an indication of the temperature of the object,” explained lead author Harish Vedantham of ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy. “The Gemini observations told us that the object was cold enough for methane to form in its atmosphere — showing us that the object is a close cousin of Solar System planets like Jupiter.” Read the full press release here.

IGRINS-2 Critical Design Review Completed on Schedule

During the review, committee members and attendees discuss the updated detector electronics design in IGRINS-2. (Credit: Scot Kleinman)
 
The Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI) hosted the Critical Design Review for the Immersion Grating INfrared Spectrometer-2 (IGRINS-2) instrument remotely from 28-29 October 2020. Dr. Chan Park of KASI, the IGRINS-2 Principal Investigator, hosted the event that included a review panel consisting of both Gemini and community experts.
 
As part of joining the Gemini international partnership, KASI is providing the Observatory with an instrument very similar to the original IGRINS (available as a popular visitor instrument at Gemini South). The instrument is designed to observe all of the H and K band atmospheric windows in a single exposure with a resolution R>40,000.  
 
Thanks in part to the strong heritage of the original IGRINS instrument, the Critical Design Stage focused primarily on the differences between IGRINS and IGRINS-2: largely improved electronics and optical tailoring for Gemini. The highly focused team maintained its original schedule and successfully completed the design stage in 7 months. The review committee’s debrief highlighted the team’s expertise and ability to successfully build this instrument, making a number of suggestions to reduce risk going forward.
 
Congratulations to the KASI IGRINS-2 Team on a job well done.

November Fast Turnaround Call for Both Gemini North and South

Gemini South started accepting Fast Turnaround (FT) proposals! We are also offering the visiting instruments (IGRINS and Zorro) at GS for FT. The next deadline is at 23:59 Hawai‘i Standard Time on 30 November 2020. Successful proposals from this cycle will stay active in the Queue from January 2021 until March 2021. Please check the telescope schedule for Gemini North and South later this month for the Feb-Mar (2021A) schedule. The FT program has been used to conduct pilot studies, complete the observations for existing data sets, follow up newly discovered objects, and much more. Proposing teams are notified of the decisions typically within a few weeks of the deadline, and data for successful programs can be obtained as early as a week or two after that. For more details, please check the FT Call for Proposals page here: http://www.gemini.edu/observing/phase-i/ft/ft-cfp.
More updates will be provided on the FT News page.

US NGO Develops New Products for All Gemini Users

Github: The US NGO is developing data reduction tutorials for the Gemini DRAGONS and IRAF packages. The new github repository for DRAGONS contains Jupyter notebooks, written using the DRAGONS Python API, with data reduction examples (adapted from the DRAGONS Documentation) for imaging modes using Flamingos2, GMOS, GSAOI, and NIRI. There are also extended help files with detailed instructions on how to download the notebooks, install the necessary Python packages, download the raw data from the Gemini Observatory Archive, and run the procedures. The Gemini/IRAF repository contains examples of data reduction scripts of GMOS long-slit spectroscopy with the Hamamatsu and e2v CCD's. New notebooks will become available as new data reduction modes are included in the next DRAGONS software updates. Details can be found at https://github.com/usngo.

Twitter: The US NGO started another channel of communication with the US Gemini community. Scheduled posts on Twitter include information about US program completion (daily for Gemini North and South), refereed publications with Gemini data and US involvement (weekly), instrument line-up (weekly for Gemini North and South), upcoming deadlines (monthly/semesterly), as well as software/instrument updates and other relevant news. Follow the US NGO at @usngo.

For questions related to these products contact: usngo@noirlab.edu.
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