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Overview of NICI's capabilities

NICI, the Near-Infrared Coronagraphic Imager, is a dual-channel imager for use on Gemini South. Built by Mauna Kea Infrared (MKIR), NICI arrived on Cerro Pachon in November 2006 and obtained "first light" on 20 February 2007. It completed its main commissioning phase in 2008B and has been offered for both queue and classical observing since 2009A.

NICI combines an 85-element curvature adaptive optics system, a dedicated Lyot coronagraph, and a specialized dual-channel camera into a single instrument optimized to detect large Jovian-type planets around nearby stars. Sensitivity is enhanced by spectrally differencing two images taken simultaneously inside and outside the strong near-infrared methane absorption features found in substellar objects cooler than 1400 K. Integrating the three major subsystems into a single instrument keeps non-common path aberrations small, limited only by the residual atmospheric wavefront and scattering. Optical scattering and ghosts are minimized by using off-axis paraboloids instead of lenses. Both channels are equipped with a 1024x1024 ALADDIN InSb array (1 -5 μm), with an imaging scale of 18 mas/pix and field of view of 18x18 arcsec. A variety of broad- and narrow-band filters are available, including AO-quality filters to sample the methane absorption band at 1.6 μm.

The Instrument Scientist for NICI is Tom Hayward.

How to use these pages

The NICI pages are organized as follows:

Also see the Near-IR Resources section, which contains generic information about observing at 1-5um as well as details about calibrations, standard stars, etc. that apply to NICI, NIRI, NIFS, GNIRS, Phoenix and FLAMINGOS-2.