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The formation of massive stars
While the account of the formation of low-mass stars is largely complete, massive star formation leaves several outstanding questions. Ben Davies of the University of Leeds (UK) and the Rochester Institute of Technology (US) and collaborators have used the adaptive-optics-fed Near-Infrared Integral Field Spectrograph (NIFS) on Gemini North to probe a massive protostar that remains embedded in its natal cloud, finding that the low- and high-mass star formation processes are similar in this instance. The team identifies signatures of an accretion disk embedded within a larger dusty torus that is aligned perpendicular to the known bipolar outflow. Observations of the disk provide a mass estimate of the central source (> 10 M_Sun), and the outflow is evident on scales less than 1 AU. More information is available from the Gemini webpage: http://www.gemini.edu/node/11394 . A preprint is available at http://arxiv.org/abs/0911.4592 and the work will be published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
Gemini results at the American Astronomical Society meeting
The 215th meeting of the American Astronomical Society attracted about 3,500 participants, many of whom presented results based on Gemini data. Several of these highlights are featured at http://www.gemini.edu/node/11387, including NICI observations of Eta Carinae (led by John Martin of the University of Illinois Springfield) and T-ReCS measurements of unusual dust composition attributed to proto-planetary collisions (led by Carl Melis of the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of California San Diego).
Gemini organized the annual community event AstroDay Chile, an opportunity to share the excitement and discoveries of astronomical research with the broader public who support these efforts. Most of the more than 20 participating observatories and organizations are located in Chile, with some contributions from Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia. Activities included the Gemini StarLab portable planetarium, talks, and workshops on stellar structure and rocket flight, in addition to opportunities to talk with astronomers. See pictures of this year's AstroDay Chile at http://www.gemini.edu/node/11397
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