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Gemini e-Newscast #110

August 16, 2018

In This e-Newscast:

Korea Welcomed as Full Gemini Participant

An agreement between the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI) and the agencies that own and operate the International Gemini Observatory was signed on Tuesday, July 24th that establishes the Republic of Korea as a full Participant in the Gemini Observatory. A signing event was part of the the Science and Evolution of Gemini meeting in San Francisco. See the full press release.

Astronomers Blown Away by Historic Stellar Blast

Observations from the Gemini South and other telescopes in Chile played a critical role in understanding light echoes from a stellar eruption which occurred almost 200 years ago. Gemini spectroscopy shows that ejected material from the blast is the fastest ever seen from a star that remained intact. See the full press release.
This sequence of images shows an artist's conception of the expanding blast wave from Eta Carinae's 1843 eruption. The first image shows the star as it may have appeared before the eruption, as a hot blue supergiant star surrounded by an older shell of gas that was ejected in a previous outburst about 1,000 years ago. Then in 1843, Eta Carinae suffered its explosive giant outburst, which created the well-known two-lobed "Homunculus" nebula, plus a fast shock wave porpagating ahead of the Homunculus. New evidence for this fast material is reported here. As time procedes, both the faster shock wave and the denser Homunculus nebula expand and fill the interior of the old shell. Eventually, we see that the faster blast wave begins to catch-up with and overtake parts of the older shell, producing a bright fireworks display that heats the older shell. Credit: Gemini Observatory/AURA/NSF/Artwork by Lynette Cook.

Hawai’i Volcano and Hurricane Hector

Hawaii Island poses natural hazards of many sorts. Since May 2018, of course the main event has been the eruption of Kilauea’s east rift zone, causing many to have to leave their homes. The lava that was once propping up the Kilauea summit abruptly left and re-emerged in the east rift, where it has created more than 100 acres of new land in the ocean around Kapoho. That abrupt move caused major subsidence at the summit, with regular collapses of the Halemaumau crater causing almost daily earthquakes of the 4th magnitude. None of these were felt either in Hilo or at the summit, as they were very localized, shallow collapses rather than earthquakes in the bulk of the island. Then, on the 4th of August, it all ceased; the chart here shows tiltmeter measurements of Kilauea summit, each major uptick being one of the 4th-mag earthquakes. At the same time, the lava erupting from “Fissure 8” in Leilani Estates in the east rift zone ceased, and the new cinder cone has only a pool of lava at its center with none now heading for the ocean entry.
Tiltmeter measurements of the Kilauea summit from mid-July until the collapse activities ceased. Data from Hawaii Volcanoes Observatory. Each major uptick marks a collapse event in the crater.
The second natural hazard threatening Hawaii is hurricanes; we are now well into Hurricane season and are already up to “H” in the naming as the East Pacific has been generating quite a few significant storms. Hector came within a couple of hundred miles of the south of the island, as a major hurricane; however the effects on Hawaii itself were quite minimal and we lost only a night and a half to the resulting instability at the summit level. Hurricane season lasts until November, so we’re keeping an eye on the East Pacific.
Hurricane Hector, apparently barreling toward Hawaii on the 7th August. In fact by this time its course was almost due west and although the island was in its outskirts the effects were relatively minor.

Gemini North Mounts Toptica Laser on Telescope

On July 19, the Gemini North Day Crew achieved a major milestone in the integration of the Toptica laser: physically mounting the laser on the Gemini North telescope. The transition from LMCT to Toptica required the removal of the existing laser and laser enclosure, then restoration of the telescope before we began the installation. In addition, balancing the telescope became an interesting challenge for our Mechanical Engineer Chas Cavedoni. Additional counterbalance weights had to be added to the telescope to compensate for the weight and position of the new laser. Scheduling and completing work each day followed by a balancing routine was required in order to transfer operation of the telescope to the Science team. Following the laser unit installation, the Day Crew is heavily involved in installation and connection of Electronic and Mechanical Services. Completion of this installation required planned execution by the entire Day Crew Team... Well executed, well done!
Installation of Toptica EC electronics cabinet. The Gemini North day crew connecting the EC to the telescope. In this image John Randrup, Chas Cavedoni, Joe D’Amato, Clayton Ah Hee, Cooper Nakayama and Tom Schneider all participated in the installation.
After successful installation of the Toptica components onto the telescope, counterbalance weights were adjusted to compensate for the new addition. This image was taken during the balance testing and end of day checks.

What Will Gemini Have for You Next Semester?

In addition to Gemini’s standard facility instruments, there will once again be several Visiting Instruments available in the next Call for Proposals. At Gemini North, we will have ‘Alopeke, our creatively mounted speckle camera operated by the team at NASA and Southern Connecticut State University. We saw some spectacular results from this instrument at the Science and Evolution of Gemini Observatory meeting last month, including the image shown here. In addition, POLISH2 will once again be available for high sensitivity polarization. POLISH2 just completed a science run at Gemini North last week, and is looking forward to returning soon! At Gemini South, we are happy to have Phoenix available once more, and we are also looking forward to the installation of Zorro, a new southern twin to ‘Alopeke. Zorro’s predecessor, the tried and true DSSI, will be available in the event that Zorro is not fully commissioned at the time of observations. More information will be available in the upcoming call for proposals – find out what’s new to use!
Observations of Jupiter made in March at Gemini North using an 832-nm filter on ‘Alopeke.  This image demonstrates a new type of imaging enabled by ‘Alopeke: wide-field speckle image reconstruction. The ‘Alopeke camera has a wide field mode that can image a 1x1 arcminute field with the same speckle readout speed! Credit: Elliott Horch, Steve Howell, and Nic Scott

Thank You for a Successful SEG2018 Conference!

A heartfelt “thank you” to all who participated in the Science and Evolution of Gemini 2018 conference. Speakers, poster contributors, and organizers all worked seamlessly to provide one of the most useful and successful Gemini users conferences to date. A special shout out to Jerry Brower, aka IT Guy to the Stars, who kept the presentations organized and all things AV functioning. Thanks also to Fernanda Urrutia for getting the speakers mic’d throughout the conference!

The conference proceedings are available online at:
Science and Evolution of the Gemini Observatory 2018 conference participants

A New Hands-On Tutorial for GMOS IFU Data Reduction

A new, hands-on 4-hour tutorial on reducing GMOS IFU-1 data was presented live at the Science and Evolution of Gemini meeting in July. The participants were shown how to obtain the data and calibrations and go from raw data to a stacked cube, all the while addressing various possible data issues. An online version of the step-by-step tutorial is now available to everyone at: Software installation instructions are included.


Getting Ready for MAROON-X

MAROON-X is a fiber-fed, red-optical, high-precision radial-velocity spectrograph that will come to Gemini North as a visiting instrument beginning in 2019. Currently under construction at the University of Chicago, it is expected to have the capability to detect Earth-size planets in the habitable zones of mid- to late-M dwarfs using the radial velocity method. In order to do this, MAROON-X requires a carefully controlled environment, and in particular, milli-Kelvin temperature stability. In preparation for this, the instrument team has installed a walk-in enclosure in the Gemini North pier lab to house the spectrograph. For the next several months, before the instrument is shipped to Hawaii, we will be monitoring the environment inside the enclosure to ensure the best possible conditions to support this exciting capability.
MAROON-X team members Julian Stuermer and Andreas Seifahrt guard the newly installed enclosure at Gemini North.  Credit: Julian Stuermer

GMOS-S Bubbles No More

GMOS-S is currently off the telescope for remedial action on the oil interfaces between lenses in its optical system. These units are sealed but nonetheless suffer, over time, from oil loss due to slow leakage. When an appreciable “bubble” has built up within the interface, the lens system produces increased orientation-dependent scattering that affects the flat field and throughput in ways that are difficult to correct. Hence, in the recent engineering period, now coming to a close, we extracted the collimator from GMOS-S (this had never been done since instrument commissioning 17 years ago) and refilled the oil interfaces. At the time of writing, the collimator has just been inserted back into the instrument and alignment has checked out well. We anticipate GMOS being back in night-time operations after the telescope maintenance shutdown, which ends on 31-August. At the same time, we made modifications to the fill system that will enable future refills to be done more easily and without such invasive action. Here we show a couple of images of the work.
GMOS-S collimator after the modification of the inter-lens oil hydraulic system. The aluminium tubes are the oil reservoirs, connected by the pipes to their respective interfaces.
Collimator reinstalled on GMOS, before installation of the mask and On-Instrument Wavefront Sensor assemblies.  Bubbles are gone and now the FOV is clean.
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