FLAMINGOS-2 Achieves First Light Milestoneby jeckersley
Figure 1: FLAMINGOS-2 image of the Tarantula Nebula (30 Doradus) located in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy to the Milky Way. A concentration of massive young stars in the very center of the cluster is causing the hydrogen gas to fluoresce due to excitation by ultraviolet light. This 3-color composite image combines the J-band (1.25 microns, blue), H-band (1.65 microns, green) and Ks-band (2.2 microns, red). The image has a total exposure (integration) of less than 10 minutes and a resolution of about 0.6 arcsecond. Credit: Gemini Observatory/University of Florida/AURA/Anthony Gonzalez
Figure 2: FLAMINGOS-2 image of the Milky Way Galactic Center where a supermassive black hole resides. Most of the stars seen here would invisible in an optical image (except for the foreground blue stars), the remaining stars are seen here becuase their near-infrared light is able to penetrate intervening clouds of gas and dust. This 3-color composite image combines the J-band (1.25 microns, blue), H-band (1.65 microns, green) and Ks-band (2.2 microns, red). The image has a total exposure (integration) of less than 10 minutes and a resolution of about 0.7 arcsecond. Credit: Gemini Observatory/University of Florida/AURA/Anthony Gonzalez
As part of on-going acceptance testing, FLAMINGOS-2 (Florida Multi-object Infrared Grism Observing Spectrograph) obtained first light images on the Gemini South telescope. Several images from this first observing run are shown here (Figures 1 & 2) and demonstrate the instrument’s initial performance. The telescope and FLAMINGOS-2 together produced high-quality images, as good as 0.4-arcsecond FWHM.
The efforts of the University of Florida instrument team, led by Stephen Eikenberry, and a large number of Gemini staff made achievement of this important step possible. The initial tasks completed include basic alignment of the instrument with the telescope and initial checks of the functionality of imaging and longslit spectroscopy modes.
A number of significant milestones must be reached before FLAMINGOS-2 will be available for Gemini community scientific use. One severe limitation now is the lack of a science-grade detector. Several more observing runs are planned through the end of the current semester to fully commission the instrument and integrate it with the telescope, including tests of a new detector. The array will need to be fully characterized, with measurements of plate scale, linearity, and sensitivity across the usable bandpass, and then the throughput and image quality for all modes will be measured.
FLAMINGOS-2 will be a facility instrument on the Gemini South telescope in Chile, providing Gemini users with a unique combination of multi-object, near-infrared spectroscopy and imaging. The 6.1 arcminute diameter field of view is available for imaging from 0.95 to 2.7 microns, or up to 80 individual spectra within a 2.0 x 6.2 arcminute field of view will be accessible in one pointing. FLAMINGOS-2 will also work in conjunction with the facility multi-conjugate adaptive optics system now under development, to provide nearly diffraction-limited resolution for imaging and spectroscopy.
For more details on FLAMINGOS-2’s capabilities, see: http://www.gemini.edu/sciops/instruments/flamingos2/.