Gemini e-Newscast #52

by xzhangIn this release:
Disks and Outflows during Formation of Massive Stars
Science Observations with FLAMINGOS-2
US Government Shutdown Ends
UCG Report Posted
Gemini Brings the Universe Down to Earth in Chile


Disks and Outflows During Formation of Massive Stars

New observations of several massive young stellar objects lends further support for an explanation of massive star formation occurring via mass accretion through disks. Because of their high luminosity, massive stars potentially risk blowing themselves apart through radiation pressure, preventing their formation. The presence of a disk can shield the material against the destructive pressure, allowing accretion (and stellar growth) to proceed. Koji Murakawa (University of Leeds, UK) and collaborators used NIFS and Altair for adaptive optics with laser guide stars on Gemini North to resolve some of the disks. CO traces the neutral disk material, which is measured in Keplerian rotation in several cases. The team also used the Brγ emission to trace the ionized component of the disk or outflow in some examples. Complete results will be published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society; a preprint is available.


Difference image between the blueshifted and redshifted components of the CO absorption feature of massive young stellar object AFGL 2136. Modeling the velocity structure as Keplerian rotation yields a central mass of 20 MSun.


Science Observations with FLAMINGOS-2

The Gemini South infrared imager and spectrograph FLAMINGOS-2 is now regularly collecting science data for current semester 2013B programs. To date about half a dozen programs are underway, covering a variety of science - from the lowest-mass brown dwarfs, to gas disks around the unique class of massive stars called Be stars, to characteristics (isotope ratios) in the winds of mass-losing supergiants. While there remains more to do, notably bringing the On-Instrument Wavefront Sensor into service, it is gratifying to see F-2 science data delivered to the Gemini community at last. Congratulations to the instrument team and we look forward to a wide range of great science as this workhorse instrument transitions into operations.


US Government Shutdown Ends

Gemini was able to maintain regular operations during the 16-day shutdown of the US Federal government, until the shutdown fortunately ended on October 16. Gemini management had contingency plans in place that would have allowed critical operations to continue through November but would have interrupted some services and progress on activities. The entire international partnership contributes funds to support Gemini, but because all pass through the US National Science Foundation as Executive Agency, NSF action is required for the Observatory to access to those funds and spend on salaries and non-labor expenses. Discussions are planned for the Gemini Board meeting in November to establish procedures that will avoid these sorts of problems in the future.

UCG Report Posted

The Users' Committee for Gemini (UCG) has completed a report following their August meeting, which is now posted. A Gemini response to the report with additional information regarding likely outcomes is expected soon.

Gemini Brings the Universe Down to Earth in Chile

Gemini’s flagship local outreach program, Viaje al Universo, recently delivered an assortment of fun and educational opportunities to several thousand local students, educators, families, and the public in the Chilean communities of La Serena, Coquimbo, and Comarbala. Events included classroom and public talks on astronomical research in Chile, STEM teacher workshops, portable planetarium programs, stargazing, and more. The annual program is a partnership between Gemini and many local community/government, research, and educational institutions and is led by the Gemini Public Information and Outreach group at Gemini South. Learn more at http://www.gemini.edu/node/12087.


Viviana Bianchi, a Gemini South volunteer from Argentina, captures the attention of a young student from St. Mary's school in La Serena by sharing an activity on the phases of the Moon.