A disappearing dusty disk
Carl Melis (University of California, San Diego) and collaborators report on the disappearance of a dusty disk around the star TYC 8241 2652 in the latest issue of Nature (subscription required). The young solar analog had previously been identified as an infrared excess source, with multiple observations over the last several decades from a variety of telescopes showing strong emission at wavelengths around 10 microns or longer. The surprising change to low infrared flux levels was first observed in 2010, with the latest observations using T-ReCS at Gemini South in May 2012 confirming that the dust has been gone for the last 2.5 years. The authors speculate about the cause of the dust's disappearance, but they have no certain conclusion.
Artist's conceptualization of the dusty TYC 8241 2652 system as it might have appeared several years ago when it was emitting large amounts of excess infrared radiation.
STAC report available
The report from the Science and Technology Advisory Committee (STAC) following the April 2012 meeting is now available, along with the Gemini Observatory response. The report includes some important suggestions for instrument complement in the near future, consequences for mid-infrared work, and possible new capabilities for the longer term. The STAC will be leading sessions at the Gemini Science and User Meeting in San Francisco to discuss long-range planning and futurue instrumentation, including adaptive optics at Gemini North.
Users' Committee for Gemini established
The new Users' Committee for Gemini (UCG) has been established. This group will provide feedback to the observatory on all areas of the operations that affect current users of the facility, and Gemini will use this information to improve the service it provides to users. The committee members will reflect on the general user experience, based on their own exposure and input collected from the broader Gemini community, rather than represent specific partner needs. We thus encourage all users to communicate with any of the committee members. The users' meeting session of the Gemini Science and User Meeting will also provide an opportunity for users to give feedback to the UCG and Gemini directly. Thanks go to all who volunteered to serve on this important committee.