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NOAO Newsletter - US Gemini Program - September 2000 - Number 63


Gemini Demonstration Science Programs

Bob Schommer, R. Blum, and Patrice Bouchet

Over the past several months, two international teams have been assembled, led by Phil Puxley and François Rigaut of the Gemini Observatory. These teams are exploring the science capabilities of the Gemini telescopes with the two visitor instru-ments provided by the University of Hawaii and the University of Florida. These instruments are avail-able for the QuickStart first semester, but their performance on the Gemini telescope was only known from predictions and extrapolations. The teams have targeted two science programs, the Galactic Center and a 10-µm deep field, and will devote about a week of observations to each target. The data will be made available to the international community as soon as feasible; updates of the system performance will be placed on the Web sites and in instrument manuals in time for the September proposal cycle for the 2001A semester.

The Galactic Center Demonstration Science team completed a successful first run (during 1-9 July 2000) using the University of Hawaii Hokupa'a adaptive optics system and the QUIRC near-infrared imager on the Gemini North 8-m telescope. The team, led by François Rigaut of Gemini, obtained H (1.65 µm) and K-band (2.2 µm) images over nearly a square degree (the FOV of QUIRC is 20 arcsec).

The Demo Science team will reduce the data set (including narrow-band images in the 2.3-µm CO bandhead to be taken at the end of July and beginning of August) and release it to the Gemini community in mid-October. Science topics that will be addressed with the data set include the star formation history in the Galactic Center, the distribution of late-type stars and the dynamical relaxation in the nuclear cluster, variability of the IR counterpart to the radio source SgrA* (commonly thought to be associated with the central black hole), and investigations of the stellar content of the SgrA* stellar cluster (see for example, Ghez et al. 1998, ApJ, 509, 678), to name just a few.

Led by Gemini scientist Phil Puxley, the second Demonstration Science program will focus on producing deep 10-µm images of four SCUBA/ISO sources using the University of Florida's OSCIR 825 µm imager/spectrometer. These observations will begin in August. The science goals include identifying the sources and detecting structure and morphology.

10-µm
image of the planetary nebula NGC 7027

Caption: The first successful engineering run on Gemini North in June for OSCIR demonstrated that both guiding and chopping work effectively. For this 10-µm image of the planetary nebula NGC 7027, Gemini North executed precise 10 arcsec "chopping" at 3 Hz. The field of view here is about 9 arcsec on a side.



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