I can spell GPI!
Published 11/9/2014 in Gemini Planet Imager Author Jason Wang
I don't normally post about food, but this was too good to pass up. The food they serve at the cafeteria on the summit can sometimes be very interesting. For my breakfast (dinner for people that are awake during the day) today, I had rice with the little alphabet letters you find in alphabet soup commonly.   Naturally, the thing to do when served this is to spell GPI. The 'P' was particularily hard to find in my dinner.   read more ❯

Detour on the Route to Chile
Published 11/8/2014 in Gemini Planet Imager Author Jason Wang
Time for my second GPI observing run! And this one is especially exciting as this run will officially start the GPI Exoplanet Survey. Flying down to observe on GPI can be its own adventure though. The closest city to the Gemini South Telescope is La Serena. Coming from the Bay Area, it takes about a full day to get to La Serena, involving at least two layovers (e.g. Dallas and Santiago), and often it doesn't go exactly at planned. This time, our flight from Dallas to Santiago... read more ❯

Snowed In
Published 9/13/2014 in Gemini Planet Imager Author agreenbaum
This week was the fourth commissioning run for GPI and I was happy to be back at Gemini to help. When we arrived it was a little cloudy, but just as beautiful as I remembered. This week predicted an unfavorable forecast; the first several nights battled cloud cover and high winds, which meant a lot of engineering tests and fewer opportunities to actually look at the sky. Clouds make for some really fantastic sunsets, though.   With a the storm rolling in last night with high winds we were unable to open the dome. We stayed over night with the hope of bright... read more ❯

Gemini Observatory reveals the GPI programs selected for 2014B
Published 6/30/2014 in Gemini Planet Imager Author Franck Marchis
Some news from Gemini Observatory, Gemini Observatory has revealed the list of observing proposals scheduled in 2014B (the second half of 2014)  that will use the GPI instrument. Those programs focused on the search for companions around nearby stars and also stars known to possess a disk and/or a planet by radial velocity. Other groups are using the quality of data provided by GPI to study planets already imaged with previous instruments, such as the HR8799 system and Beta Pic b. Their goal is the study the atmosphere of those planets and also to collect more astrometric positions to refine the orbit... read more ❯

First Observing Run
Published 5/30/2014 in Gemini Planet Imager Author agreenbaum
I recently returned from the third commissioning run for the Gemini Planet Imager. Up until now, I had never been observing. I had never even seen the Milky Way. And as far as firsts go, I hit the jackpot -- my first observing run at Gemini South, commissioning GPI. Up on the mountain for 6 days, sunset to sunrise we busily work to gather light from the sky into GPI. But everyone takes a few moments during the night to step outside and look at the sky with their own eyes -- no one misses the opportunity. I've always lived in a... read more ❯

GPI 3rd commissioning run -- Astrometric calibration with a little help from MagAO
Published 5/15/2014 in Gemini Planet Imager Author Katie Morzinski
Astrometric calibration is critical for GPI: When we see a faint dot near a star, the best way to check whether it is a planet orbiting that star, versus whether it is a background star along the same line-of-sight, is to compare the astrometry at a later date. Astrometry means measuring the stars -- measuring the exact position in arcseconds and angle from North. But to figure out the size of our pixels on the sky, and the orientation of our camera and which way is North, we have to observe known groups of stars and measure their separations and... read more ❯

Tour of the Telescope
Published 5/15/2014 in Gemini Planet Imager Author Jason Wang
Yesterday, we had a chance to see the telescope in all of its glory. And it is HUGE! It really makes you appreciate the amount of equipment you need to directly image these faint extrasolar planets that are orbiting other stars. Andrew, the telescope operator, then pointed the telescope down so that we could get some nice photographs with the 8-meter mirror. Here's my telescope selfie:   The 8 meter mirror is so big it's hard to fit into one single shot. This was the best... read more ❯

GPI 3rd Commissioning Run - Introduction
Published 5/13/2014 in Gemini Planet Imager Author Katie Morzinski
Hello GPI fans - this is my first post at Cosmic Diary. I'm a NASA Sagan postdoctoral fellow at the University of Arizona and a member of the Gemini Planet Imager science team. While I was at UC-Santa Cruz for my PhD, I worked with the PI, Bruce Macintosh, to develop MEMS deformable mirrors for GPI. These days, I spend a lot of time in Chile commissioning extreme AO systems, which is pretty fun! Specifically, I'm usually working on and blogging about the Magellan AO system, MagAO. But this week, I've come down to Chile... read more ❯

Characterizing the exoplanet HD 95086b with GPI.
Published 4/26/2014 in Gemini Planet Imager Author Franck Marchis
Another week and yet another article based on GPI data has been accepted for publication. A team led by a European astronomer has analyzed observations of the planetary system named HD 95086, which has been known since last year for hosting an exoplanet, named HD 95086b. GPI data was extremely useful in confirming that the planet is co-moving with its star and in constraining its properties, such as its temperature and composition. HD 95086... read more ❯

The orbit of the exoplanet Beta Pictoris b - The first peer-reviewed article with GPI
Published 4/4/2014 in Gemini Planet Imager Author Franck Marchis
Following our very successful first light observing runs in late 2013, the first publication based on Gemini Planet Imager observations is now complete!  It has been accepted for publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciencesas part of a special issue on exoplanets, and is now available on Astro-ph. We report in this publication the performance of the Gemini Planet Imager based on the first light tests. The first scientific result demonstrates that right from the start, GPI has been performing well enough to yield new insights into exoplanets: Our astrometric observations from November 2013  gave us important new... read more ❯