Celebrate the Large and Long Program – Gemini Observations of Galaxies in Rich Early ENvironments (GOGREEN) Survey

Celebrate the Large and Long Program! is a series of blog posts which showcase the high-impact science under the Large and Long Program of Gemini Observatory.

What is the Large and Long Program?

The Large and Long Program (LLP) is one of five observing modes Gemini offers to users of our telescopes. These five modes categorize projects based on length and weather conditions required for the observations. Classically, Gemini accepts proposals on a six month basis and recipients awarded with observing time complete their observations within that given semester. Large and Long Programs, on the other hand, provide more flexibility for long term research and last anywhere from one to three years. This extended time frame promotes collaboration across communities and produces significant and high-impact science. Here, we ask past and present Large and Long Programs to share a little about their research and experience with Gemini Observatory.

Gemini Observations of Galaxies in Rich Early ENvironments (GOGREEN) Survey

GOGREEN Survey Logo

1. Principal Investigator: Name and Affiliation?

Michael Balogh, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Waterloo

2. How would you describe your Large and Long Program?

We are obtaining spectra for hundreds of faint galaxies in 21 dense environments at 1<z<1.5.  This redshift range represents an epoch where the growth of large scale structure is just beginning to affect the evolution of galaxies.  With spectroscopy we will measure the ages, dynamics and growth rates (via star formation and mergers) for the low-mass galaxies that are the building-blocks for more massive cluster galaxies we observe today.  The homogeneous sample selection allows us to construct a robust statistical description of how the galaxy population has evolved over the last ~9.5 billion years.

3. Why is Gemini best suited for this research?

The GMOS instruments on Gemini are perfectly suited for this research, as the field of view is perfectly matched to the size of the dense structures we are observing (several Mpc at z~1).  The good red sensitivity of the detectors, with good response out to 1 micron, allows optical spectroscopy out to z=1.5.  The nod-and-shuffle capability allows us to obtain the residual-free sky subtraction that is critical to working at these red wavelengths, and also provides the ability to closely pack slits in the dense environments of galaxy clusters and groups.

4. What has been the best part of your experience with the Large and Long Program?

The opportunity to actually observe at Gemini, to see firsthand how the queue works and also to take advantage of the best weather conditions during priority visitor mode, has been a highlight of our Large and Long Program.

You can learn more about the GOGREEN Survey here.

Celebrate the Large and Long Program! is a series of blog posts which showcase the high-impact science under the Large and Long Program of Gemini Observatory.

 

Get to Know Gemini! – Jeff Radwick

Get to Know Gemini is a new series of blog posts aimed to highlight the different careers, backgrounds, and types of people contributing to Gemini Observatory and its science.

Image credit: Lavaman Waikoloa 2016

Name:  Jeff Radwick

What is your current position and at which telescope?

Head of the Project Support Department (PSD), stationed at GN but the team is cross-site.

In four lines or less, explain what you do as part of the Gemini Observatory team?

  1.  I am the Project Sponsor of all the Facility-Class instruments. I lead the Systems Engineers and Program Managers in new instrument acquisition.
  2. The PSD provides systems engineering support to the observatories (this is a nascent effort).
  3. I am leading the introduction to Gemini of aerospace class systems engineering practices, to get new instruments that meet technical, cost, and schedule requirements.

How long have you worked for Gemini?

5 months.

What drew you to this job?

The chance to work with astronomers as my customers.

What is the best part of your job?

Getting stuff done with a minimum of politics and a maximum of great people.

Where are you originally from/where did you grow up?

Hollywood, CA and I grew up in Central Florida.

What skill do you think is most important to know for your job?

Leadership ability.

Why is astronomy important?

Astronomy drives advances in physics and therefore our knowledge of how everything works and why we are here.

What is your favorite movie?

Patton

What is the latest book you have read?

Dereliction of Duty, H.R. McMaster.

What three albums would you bring with you to a desert island?

Kind of Blue Miles Davis,

Getz/Gilberto Stan Getz, Joao Gilberto

Songs in the Key of Life Stevie Wonder.

What is one hobby of yours?

Fly fishing and tying.

Favorite beverage?

Red wine

Check back next month to learn more about the staff that help Gemini to explore the Universe and share its wonders!

Celebrate the Large and Long Program: A GNIRS Near-IR Spectroscopic Survey of z>5.7 Quasars

Celebrate the Large and Long Program! is a series of blog posts which showcase the high-impact science under the Large and Long Program of Gemini Observatory.

What is the Large and Long Program?

The Large and Long Program (LLP) is one of five observing modes Gemini offers to users of our telescopes. These five modes categorize projects based on length and weather conditions required for the observations. Classically, Gemini accepts proposals on a six month basis and recipients awarded with observing time complete their observations within that given semester. Large and Long Programs, on the other hand, provide more flexibility for long term research and last anywhere from one to three years. This extended time frame promotes collaboration across communities and produces significant and high-impact science. Here, we ask past and present Large and Long Programs to share a little about their research and experience with Gemini Observatory.

A GNIRS Near-IR Spectroscopic Survey of z>5.7 Quasars

1. Principal Investigator: Name and Affiliation?

Yue Shen, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

2. How would you describe your Large and Long Program?

Our program focuses on the characterization of the physical properties of the first generation of supermassive black holes (SMBHs) at redshift greater than ~6. Powered by mass accretion onto these black holes, these objects are seen as luminous quasars when the Universe is less than one tenth of its current age, and are among the most distant objects within the reach of our most powerful observing facilities. It is the first systematic survey of these earliest SMBHs with dedicated spectroscopic observations conducted in the near-infrared wavelength range. With Gemini’s superb capabilities, we are putting together the largest near-IR spectroscopic data set for the these objects, and will study in detail their physical properties such as the mass of their black holes, the emission properties of these accreting SMBHs, and outflows traced by absorption features imprinted on their spectra. This sample will give us a glance of the earliest assembly of massive black holes in the Universe, and will shed light on their formation scenarios, as well as their co-evolution with their host galaxies at cosmic dawn.

3. Why is Gemini best suited for this research?

These highest-redshift quasars are extremely faint. To observe them in the near-infrared we really require large-aperture telescopes. Gemini and its near-IR spectragrah (GNIRS) provide one of the best facilities, and is publicly accessible, to perform such demanding observations. Indeed Gemini was used to provide near-IR spectroscopy for a handful of high-redshift quasars in the past, and with this new large Gemini program we are pushing this effort on a higher level.

4. What has been the best part of your experience with the Large and Long Program?

I think the best part is the efficient query-mode execution of the program by the Gemini team. For our program with a large sample of objects spread over the year to be observed, the query-mode observations make it a lot easier to obtain the data and minimize weather impact, and the Gemini team has been great in executing the program for us.

Big Island Summer Astronomy Outreach

Big Island Summer Astronomy Outreach

Gemini North Public Information and Outreach assistant Alyssa Grace is on the move, traveling from Kaʻū to Laupahoehoe on Hawaiʻi Island to share the wonders of the Universe with students all summer. Check back for updates on her Big Island tour!

Puʻuʻeo Gym – June 13

Alyssa stopped by Puʻuʻeo Gym for her first summer outreach visit on Tuesday, June 13. Twenty students in grades 8-10 explored the wonders of astronomy with mini spectroscopes, by constructing their own star wheels, and scaling-down the distances to the stars using constellation maps.  

Carvalho Gym – June 14

On Wednesday, 70 students from grades K-6 learned about the function of telescope by making their own spectra cards. These spectra cards split sunlight into its different colors, allowing the kids to see rainbows all day. One young boy even turned his spectra card into a pair of star-shaped glasses.

Wainaku Gym – June 15

On Thursday, 34 students from grades K-6 had fun crafting their own spectra cards and star wheels. Kids can use them to identify constellations in the night sky every day of the year. Some even saw fit to add their name to the stars!

 

Waiākea Uka Gym

After making spectra cards from recycled Gemini images, over 100 students from grades K-6 peered at our Nitrogen gas lamp inside our black viewing box and compared the spectra produced by the gas lamp to the spectra produced by their classroom lights.

 

Get to Know Gemini! – Joanna Thomas-Osip

Get to Know Gemini is a new series of blog posts aimed to highlight the different careers, backgrounds, and types of people contributing to Gemini Observatory and its science.

jo2

Name:  Joanna Thomas-Osip

What is your current position and at which telescope?

I’m the Head of the Science User Support Department stationed at Gemini South but the team is cross-site.

In four lines or less, explain what you do as part of the Gemini Observatory team?

The Science User Support Department (SUSD) was formed a couple years ago to create a collaborative community of users, National Gemini Offices (NGO), and staff and to consolidate the organization of and track existing post-observing support throughout the observatory for more efficient use of resources as well as better visibility amongst our user community.  The mission of the SUSD is to advocate for the users and enable Gemini Principal Investigators (PI) to produce world-class scientific results in a timely manner.  I lead a team of data reduction software programmers and scientists to maintain public and proprietary Gemini data in an easily accessible archive, provide easy to use tools for accurate data reduction and instructions to use them, coordinate with NGOs for user support within each partner community, and communicate with users throughout the lifecycle of a scientific observing program.

How long have you worked for Gemini?

4 years – before the SUSD I worked as a Science Operations Specialist (SOS) to collect data at night for our PIs.

What drew you to this job?

The chance to create something new and enable the exciting science our PIs do.

What is the best part of your job?

Learning something new everyday.

Where are you originally from/where did you grow up?

Seattle – yes I worked as a barista.

What skill do you think is most important to know for your job?

Listening and enabling my team of experts to do what they do best.

Why is astronomy important?

As one of the more intriguing sciences (perhaps I am biased?), astronomy has the potential to attract young folks and the general public alike to learn more about how the world around them works. Ultimately, however, the pursuit of astronomy is fundamentally a very human one in addressing our origins.

In three lines, explain your PhD thesis.

In order to characterize the aerosols in the atmosphere of Titan, I measured the light scattering properties of a large sample of model aerosols with different morphologies and optical properties using the Microwave Analog Light Scattering Facility at the University of Florida.  Then I compared radiative transfer models based on these measurements to the photopolarimetric observations from Pioneer 11 and Voyagers 1 and 2. This analysis predicted the existence of a combination of small Rayleigh-like single particles and aggregates of up to more than 1000 of these.

What are your current research interests?

Lately, I’m interested in characterizing Near-Earth Asteroids.  

What is your favorite movie?

The Last of the Mohicans

What is the latest book you have read?

Mindsight by Daniel Siegel

What three albums would you bring with you to a desert island?

Pure Ganesha – Guru Ganesha
Nights from the Alhambra – Loreena McKennitt
Afterglow (live) – Sarah McLachlan

What is one hobby of yours?

High performance driving – lapping my 1986 944 turbo around a racetrack – not racing

Favorite beverage?

Espresso drinks, especially a flat white with an extra shot and bit of chocolate

Check back next month to learn more about the staff that help Gemini to explore the Universe and share its wonders!