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«Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. Table&of&Contents& 1 Executive Summary 2 Introduction and Overview 3 Science Highlights ...»

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2013 Annual Progress Report

and 2014 Program Plan

of the Gemini Observatory

Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc.


1 Executive Summary

2 Introduction and Overview

3 Science Highlights

3.1! First Results using GeMS/GSAOI

3.2! Gemini NICI Planet-Finding Campaign

3.3! The Sun’s Closest Neighbor Found in a Century

3.4! The Surprisingly Low Black Hole Mass of an Ultraluminous X-Ray Source 7!

3.5! GRB 130606A

3.6! Observing the Accretion Disk of the Active Galaxy NGC 1275

4 Operations

4.1! Gemini Publications and User Relationships

4.2! Operations Summary

4.3! Instrumentation

4.4! Data Reduction

4.5! User Software Improvements

4.6! Remote Eavesdropping

4.7! Storage and Archiving

4.8! Telescopes and Enclosures

4.9! Operations Metrics

4.10! Administration and Facilities

4.11! Safety

4.12! Transition Program

5 Instrumentation and Facility Development



5.3! GPI

5.4! GMOS CCD Upgrade

5.5! GHOS


5.7! Other Development Activities

6 Public Outreach and Broadening Participation

6.1! Primary Outreach Programming

6.1.1! Local Observatory Career Awareness

6.1.2! Hawaii’s Journey Through the Universe and Chile’s Viaje al Universo....... 28!

6.1.3! StarLab Planetarium

6.1.4! Family Astro

6.1.5! Live From Gemini

6.2! New and Social Media

6.3! Strategic Communications

6.3.1! Publications

6.3.2! Press Releases and Web Features

6.4! Broadening Participation and Workforce Development

i 7 Administration and Finance

7.1! Finance

7.2! Management and Organization

7.3! Staffing Plan for 2013 and 2014

7.4! Budget

7.4.1! Partner Contributions

7.4.2! Expenditures by Fund

7.4.3! 2013 Instrument Development Fund (IDF) Expenses

7.4.4! 2013 Facilities Development Fund (FDF) Expenses

8 2014 Program Plan

8.1! Overview through 2016

8.2! Future Staffing and Budget

8.2.1! Staffing Plan through 2016

8.2.2! Partner Contributions 2013–2015

8.2.3! Overall Budget

8.3! Science and Engineering Operations in 2014

8.3.1! Regular Operations

8.3.2! Science and Engineering Operations Core Projects

8.3.3! Optional Science and Engineering Operations Projects

8.4! Transition Program

8.4.1! Transition Program Overview

8.4.2! Transition Program Core Goals

8.4.3! Optional Transition Projects

8.4.4! Contingency Plan

8.5! Instrumentation and Facility Development in 2014

8.5.1! Development Core Goals

8.5.2! Development Optional Projects

8.6! Administration and Facilities in 2014

8.7! Public Information and Outreach in 2014

Appendix A. Publications by Staff

A.1 Refereed Staff Publications

A.2 Non-Refereed Staff Publications

Appendix B. Publications by Users

Appendix C. Research Staff Effort

Appendix D. Science Programs 2012B and 2013A

Appendix E. Organizational Chart

Appendix F. Acronyms and Abbreviations

& ii 1 Executive Summary The Gemini Observatory consists of twin 8-meter diameter optical/infrared telescopes located on two of the best observing sites on the planet. Locations in the northern and southern hemispheres (Hawai‘i and Chile) provide access to the entire sky. A range of instrumentation provides imaging and spectroscopic capabilities, with enhancements from adaptive optics and specialized instrumentation. The vast majority of activity within the Observatory is dedicated to maintaining and supporting operations on behalf of the international scientific community of the Gemini Partnership. The Observatory’s goal is to enable their scientific progress, as they address problems on all scales of the universe, from the nearby objects in the Solar System to the largest cosmological structures.

Gemini continues to improve its offerings as an efficient and nimble observatory that can respond to users’ needs.

Beyond operations, the two additional core programs of Gemini are instrumentation and facility development and the “transition” to a reduced budget level. Development projects provide new capabilities for users and improve existing ones, with the results eventually becoming part of regular operations. Investments through the Transition Program will result in long-term cost savings and provide long-term sustainability so operations can continue with fewer Observatory staff members.

Following a brief introduction (Section 2), this report present science highlights based on user publications during the year (Section 3). These results show the rapid adoption of novel and unique instrumentation including the Gemini Multi-conjugate Adaptive Optics System (GeMS), major results from a dedicated campaign to find extrasolar planets, and quick response to user’s needs to identify and characterize a new-found neighbor beyond the Solar System.

Section 4 reports progress of Observatory operations. This area includes the fundamental daytime preparations and nighttime usage of the telescope and instruments, along with scientific support of users. The publication rate based on observations with Gemini facilities continues to increase, and usage of Gemini North and Gemini South is now comparable. Dedicated projects provided the near-infrared imager and spectrograph FLAMINGOS-2 for user science, supported visiting instruments to expand the offered capabilities, delivered improved data reduction and software tools, and performed regular telescope maintenance including a recoating of the primary mirror at Gemini North. Performance metrics are reported here, including completion rates for queue observing programs executed by Gemini staff, subscription rates for telescope time, overall telescope usage, and fault rates.

Activity within the Transition Program is also reported in Section 4, with the effort supported by the operations and maintenance budget and operations staff. Significant progress was made in several important projects, including the quality assessment pipeline, which will reduce staff effort to assess data during nighttime observing, an automated system to comply with requirements of using laser guide star adaptive optics systems, training of non-research observers, and management of the program. In addition, several items that had not originally been planned for 2013 delivered results, 1 including savings by reducing rented storage facilities, savings with a new summit transport system in Chile, and plans for savings on information systems fees.

The high priority plans for instrumentation and facility development (Section 5) were realized. These included completion of the in-house development on GeMS and its delivery with science instrument Gemini South Adaptive Optics Imager for regular science use, repair of the catastrophic lens failure of FLAMINGOS-2 and handover to Operations for regular science use, and delivery and first commissioning of the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI). The lower priority development projects suffered some delays, the most significant of which is a contracting delay for the new Gemini High-resolution Optical Spectrograph (GHOS).

Gemini aims to broaden participation in science and technical fields and to inform the general public about our activities, especially in the local communities of our telescope sites (Section 6). The flagship public outreach programs, Journey Through the Universe in Hawai‘i and Viaje al Universo in Chile, attracted over 17,000 participants in 2013.

School visits of the portable StarLab planetarium reached over 4,000 people at both sites. Strategic communications concentrate on scientific users, and a shift to a quarterly and electronic publication of the GeminiFocus newsletter in 2013 provides them with more timely and accessible information. Successful workforce development initiatives include a teleworking policy, improved employee recognition programs, and succession planning throughout the Observatory. To encourage broadening participation, Gemini continues to support regular internship programs.

–  –  –

2 Section 8 presents the program plan for 2014. The majority of activity and budget are dedicated to regular operations, and this area remains the highest priority across the Observatory. Planned milestones for specific small projects within operations are listed.

Operations can support four instruments plus adaptive optics at each site. Temporary staff increases in 2014 are dedicated to short-term projects, especially in support of the Transition Program. Within this program, the largest effort is dedicated to develop base facility operations (allowing for regular observing from each base site, reducing summit support), a project that will be fully implemented at the end of 2016. Work will continue on other transition projects, with emphasis and priority on those that will deliver savings.

–  –  –

This annual progress report shows the 2013 activities toward fulfilling this mission. The starting point is the twin 8-meter telescopes and their instrument capabilities that are available to the user community. The Gemini user community’s scientific interests range from the Solar System to the most distant galaxies and quasars, and Gemini Observatory’s variety of optical and infrared imagers and spectrometers are sufficiently flexible to enable this broad range of exploration. More specialized capabilities are also available for general use.

Gemini offers both queue and visitor observations according to user choice. The queue makes targets of opportunity a regular and popular mode of use. Gemini supports astronomical researchers from preparation of observations through data reduction to enable efficient and effective scientific return. The Gemini data archive, which includes calibrations, is open to everyone after an eighteen-month proprietary period for the original investigators.

Against this backdrop of regular operations, observatory staff and our community partners continue to work toward the delivery of new capabilities. This year marked the complete transformation of Gemini South, with the Gemini Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics System (GeMS) completing system verification and being offered for use through the regular proposal cycle, FLAMINGOS-2 also becoming a regular offering, and the beginning of commissioning the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI).

We recognize in 2013 the first year without participation of the United Kingdom, one of the founding members of the international partnership. The corresponding budget change has stimulated fundamental shifts in Gemini operations and service delivery. We will execute these tasks that support the future sustainable operation of Gemini in new ways as part of the Gemini “Transition,” activities that will continue through 2015.

This report begins with highlights of scientific results (Section 3). Section 4 describes progress in all areas of operations, the largest of which are science and engineering.

Instrument development activity during the year is covered in Section 5. Results from the active education and public outreach program appear in Section 6. It concludes with an organizational and budget summary (Section 7) and a program plan for 2014 and future years, through the Gemini Transition (Section 8).

4 3 Science Highlights The annual science highlights from Gemini are the work of the international user community. They use both telescopes and their instruments to pursue a diversity of scientific topics.

3.1 First Results using GeMS/GSAOI The first refereed astronomy paper based on data using GeMS demonstrates the effective use of young, lower mass stars to determine the age of a star cluster. The infrared sensitivity and resolution the adaptive optics system provides for the Gemini South Adaptive Optics Imager (GSAOI) science instrument enable the measurements of the stars in the low-mass cluster Haffner 16 in the Milky Way (Davidge et al. 2013 PASP 125, 1181).

In particular, photometry of the fainter pre-main sequence stars is possible. These become essential for determining the cluster’s age accurately because the higher-mass stars that are usually used as an age diagnostic are often absent in low-mass clusters.

The result yields an age !≲!10 Myr for Haffner 16. In contrast, trying to use optical measurements results in an age about 2Myr greater.

–  –  –

5 Other GeMS/GSAOI based on early observations papers have been published. Among them, Zyuzin and collaborators (2013 ApJ 775 101) resolve an extended feature near the Vela pulsar, demonstrating that the pulsar itself does not exhibit any excess infrared emission and instead associating the feature with the counter-jet observed in X-rays. In addition, the first in a series of technical summaries of the system is in press (Rigaut et al., 2014 MNRAS 437 2361).

3.2 Gemini NICI Planet-Finding Campaign Astronomers have evidence for hundreds of planets around stars beyond the Sun, but only a handful are observed in direct imaging. The planets are intrinsically faint, and detecting them near their bright host stars adds to the challenges. The Near-Infrared Coronagraphic Imager (NICI) at Gemini South has provided greater sensitivity than previous ground- or space-based instruments, being able to detect an object one million times fainter than its bright host at a projected separation of 1 arcsecond. Michael Liu (University of Hawaii) and a large international team from across the Gemini partnership and beyond have used the instrument for the Gemini NICI Planet-Finding Campaign, the largest, deepest systematic search for planets through direct imaging. The result is that fewer stars than previously expected show evidence for planets, which will require some updates to theories of planet formation and survival. While some low-mass (substellar) companion objects have been detected, the Campaign did not image any unknown planets.

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