Gemini South laser constellation propagated on-sky
The Gemini South 50-watt laser was first successfully propagated as a 5-star constellation on January 22, 2011. The laser guide stars are a key component of the Gemini Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics System(GeMS), which will provide uniform correction over a relatively wide field. Technical commissioning of GeMS, including Canopus (the adaptive optics module) and the Gemini South Adaptive Optics Imager(GSAOI; the initial science instrument) will continue this year, with Gemini community science use in 2012. More information and images are available at http://www.gemini.edu/node/11603.
A solid mass measurement of the M87 black hole
Karl Gebhardt (University of Texas) and collaborators used NIFS on Gemini North to measure a black hole mass of 6.6 +/- 0.4 x 109 MSun in the nearby galaxy M87. At this high resolution with adaptive optics, the black hole mass is insensitive to the dark halo contribution, although this component is important on larger scales. M87 is a useful case to help determine the high-mass end of the black hole mass-velocity dispersion relationship accurately. A preprint is now available at http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2011arXiv1101.1954G and the work will be published in the Astrophysical Journal. More information is available from Gemini at http://www.gemini.edu/node/11588.
Moving forward toward high-resolution optical spectroscopy
The 21 submitted white papers on high-resolution optical spectroscopy covered a full range of science, wavelengths, resolutions, and concepts. The Gemini Science Committee has reviewed them to identify instrument goals, and we expect to release a request for proposals in the coming months to develop this capability.
GPI campaign science
The submitted letters of intent for Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) campaign science programs show lively interest in this future instrument. We anticipate releasing the final call for campaign science proposals within a week. GPI will also be available for regular PI science use, which will be announced in the standard call for proposals. We expect GPI to be available at the end of 2012. For the most current information, see http://www.gemini.edu/sciops/instruments/gpi/?q=sciops/instruments/gpi.