Astronomy & Telescopes

The Gemini Planet Imager: First Light

By Keith Cowing
March 30, 2014
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The Gemini Planet Imager: First Light

The Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) is a dedicated facility for directly imaging and spectroscopically characterizing extrasolar planets.

It combines a very high-order adaptive optics system, a diffraction-suppressing coronagraph, and an integral field spectrograph with low spectral resolution but high spatial resolution. Every aspect of GPI has been tuned for maximum sensitivity to faint planets near bright stars.

During first light observations, we achieved an estimated H band Strehl ratio of 0.89 and a 5-sigma contrast of 10 6 at 0.75 arcseconds and 10 5 at 0.35 arcseconds. Observations of Beta Pictoris clearly detect the planet, Beta Pictoris b, in a single 60-second exposure with minimal post-processing. Beta Pictoris b is observed at a separation of 434±6 milli-arcseconds and position angle 211.8±0.5 deg.

Fitting the Keplerian orbit of Beta Pic b using the new position together with previous astrometry gives a factor of three improvement in most parameters over previous solutions. The planet orbits at a semi-major axis of 9.0 +0.8 −0.4 AU near the 3:2 resonance with the previously-known 6 AU asteroidal belt and is aligned with the inner warped disk. The observations give a 4% posterior probability of a transit of the planet in late 2017.

Bruce Macintosh (1, 2), James R. Graham (3), Patrick Ingraham (2), Quinn Konopacky (4), Christian Marois (5), Marshall Perrin (6), Lisa Poyneer (1), Brian Bauman (1), Travis Barman (7), Adam Burrows (8), Andrew Cardwell (9), Jeffrey Chilcote, Robert J. De Rosa (11), Daren Dillon (12), Rene Doyon (13), Jennifer Dunn (5), Darren Erikson (5), Michael Fitzgerald (10), Donald Gavel (12), Stephen Goodsell (9), Markus Hartung (9), Pascale Hibon (9), Paul G. Kalas (3), James Larkin (10), Jerome Maire (4), Franck Marchis (14), Mark Marley (15), James McBride (3), Max Millar-Blanchaer (4), Katie Morzinski (7), Andew Norton (12), B. R. Oppenheimer (16), Dave Palmer (1), Jennifer Patience (11), Laurent Pueyo (6), Fredrik Rantakyro (9), Naru Sadakuni (9), Leslie Saddlemyer (5), Dmitry Savransky (17), et al. (8 additional authors not shown) You must enabled JavaScript to view entire author list.

(Submitted on 28 Mar 2014)

Comments: 9 pages, 5 figures, accepted for publication Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci

Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM)

Cite as: arXiv:1403.7520 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1403.7520v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)

Submission history From: James R. Graham [v1] Fri, 28 Mar 2014 19:59:36 GMT (575kb,D)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻