GPI

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 ❯

Peering at Planets
Published 2/13/2014 in Gemini Planet Imager Author kkornei
Astronomers and engineers recently completed building the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) to study distant solar systems. GPI will obtain high-resolution images of extrasolar planets by blocking the light of stars and detecting the faint thermal glow of orbiting planets. Since the first extrasolar planet was discovered in 1995, thousands of candidate extrasolar planetary systems have... read more ❯

GPI Technology: Gemini Planet Imager Adaptive Optics uses Boston Micromachines MEMS deformable mirror
Published 2/8/2014 in Gemini Planet Imager Author Franck Marchis
Adapted from Boston Micromachines Corporation press release CAMBRIDGE, MA--(Marketwired - Feb 3, 2014) - Boston Micromachines Corporation (BMC), a leading provider of MEMS-based deformable mirror (DM) products, adaptive optics (AO) systems and scientific instruments, announced on Feb. 3 2014 that its 4K-DM is currently installed and is being used in the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI). Deployed on one of the world's largest telescopes, the 8-meter Gemini South telescope located in the Chilean Andes, GPI is a scientific instrument which detects light from extrasolar planets. Custom... read more ❯

Meeting the Team: GPI Science Meeting November 2013
Published 1/6/2014 in Gemini Planet Imager Author Jason Wang
The Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) team held our latest science meeting November 1-2, 2013, right before GPI saw first starlight. The meeting was hosted by the SETI Institute at their office in Mountain View, CA (for those curious, I did not find any signs of aliens there). Continuing with tradition, we took a group picture of the GPI team. You can tell it has grown significantly from the past. Building an instrument as complex as the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) and using it to directly image planets... read more ❯

The Next Step in Exoplanetary Science: Imaging New Worlds
Published 12/28/2013 in Gemini Planet Imager Author Franck Marchis
In 2003, I was lucky enough to be part of a small group of astronomers that met at the University of California at Berkeley to brainstorm on an innovative idea: the design of an instrument to image and characterize planets around other stars, called exoplanets, using a telescope in the 8 – 10 meter class. A decade later, such an instrument became reality with the arrival of the Gemini Planet Imager (called also GPI, or “Gee-pie”) instrument at the Gemini South telescope in Chile. Five known planetary systems imaged with current adaptive optics systems. Fomalhaut shown on... read more ❯

The Next Step in Exoplanetary Science: Imaging New Worlds
Published 12/27/2013 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
In 2003, I was lucky enough to be part of a small group of astronomers that met at the University of California at Berkeley to brainstorm on an innovative idea: the design of an instrument to image and characterize planets around other stars, called exoplanets, using a telescope in the 8 – 10 meter class. A decade later, such an instrument became reality with the arrival of the Gemini Planet Imager (called also GPI, or “Gee-pie”) instrument at the Gemini South telescope in Chile. Five known planetary systems imaged with current adaptive optics systems. Fomalhaut shown on... read more ❯

Gemini Planet Imager Begins On-sky Integration at Gemini South
Published 11/15/2013 in Gemini Planet Imager Author Franck Marchis
Adapted from Gemini Observatory e-Newscast #53 Gemini's powerful new instrument for studying planets beyond the Solar System, the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI), has successfully received its first starlight for engineering and testing on the night of November 11-12. On-sky observations are currently ongoing for technical integration with the Gemini South telescope. The GPI team (Figure 1) began the 7-night observing run began with a head start, since preliminary pupil and pointing alignments were completed early, due to extensive preparatory work and smooth integration since the instrument arrived at Gemini South in August. Figure 1. The GPI commissioning team... read more ❯

Major milestone for GPI. The exoplanet camera hunter is mounted on the Gemini South Telescope
Published 10/25/2013 in Gemini Planet Imager Author Franck Marchis
Yesterday was a major milestone for the Gemini Planet Imager Project! Gaston Gausachs, mechanical engineer at Gemini Observatory, sent us this great picture ofGPI, our exoplanet camera hunter, mounted on the Gemini South Telescope. The team reported that it was a flawless and smooth operation. The 2-ton instrument is now attached to the Cassegrain focus of the telescope. The picture below shows  GPI on the bottom, and  CANOPUS on the left, GMOS on the right, two other instruments that can be operated at the Gemini South Telescope. We... read more ❯

Special delivery for the Gemini South telescope. GPI has arrived!
Published 8/21/2013 in Gemini Planet Imager Author Franck Marchis
Stephen Goodsell, Gemini Instrumentation Manager, surprised most of the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) team on August 16 at 3am when we received in our mailbox his email announcing that GPI  landed to Chile. The crates containing the dismounted instrument (see our previous post) had been loaded in a Boeing 747 from Lan Chile and flew to Lima then Santiago (LA601). After quickly clearing customs, the local GPI team could inspect the crates and determined that they arrived in... read more ❯

Packing a planet imager instrument for a trip to Chile
Published 8/14/2013 in Gemini Planet Imager Author Franck Marchis
It is happening! The Gemini Planet Imager has been being dismounted, wrapped, and packed for a long trip to Chile. After so many years working on this project, the entire team shared   the anxiety of the principal investigator, Bruce Macintosh: GPI is going away... After a successful pre-shipping review, the instrument has left UCSC, where it was being integrated and tested, for its new home: the Gemini South Telescope on the top of Cerro Pachon in the Chilean Andes. It has not been an easy... read more ❯

GPI is ready for its new location in Chile
Published 8/2/2013 in Gemini Planet Imager Author Franck Marchis
It is now official, The Gemini Planet Imager ("Gee-pi") is ready for shipping to Chile. This decision was taken on July 19 after the positive pre-delivery acceptance review. From its current home at the University of California Santa Cruz, the instrument’s Integral Field Spectrograph (IFS) began its warm-up a week later (July 25th), and the computers were shut-down two days ago (July 31st). GPI is going to be carefully packed for a long trip to Chile. The instrument will be shipped... read more ❯