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Gemini Adaptive Optics Program
Science Drivers


The Gemini Observatory Mission is to address compelling astrophysical questions by providing state-of-the-art, productive observing capabilities that will enable the Gemini community to be a leader in OIR ground-based astronomy.

1. Science Drivers for Phase 1

As an illustration of the astronomical programs which benefit from the adaptive optics system, Simon Morris (currently at Durham University) led a team at the Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics to assess the science drivers for an adaptive optics system on the Gemini telescopes. The following table summarizes this study.

Table 1. High Priority Science Cases for Gemini AO [ Simon et al. 1997]

Project Prime Band Observation Band Field-of-view [a] Magnitude Range (I) Number of Objects [b] Resolution [c] (arcsec) Desired Strehl Ratio [d] NGS
Sky
Coverage [e]
LGS
Sky
Coverage [e]
Brown Dwarfs and M stars (images) H J-K <10 arcsec 12-20 1 0.1 0.5 own own
Young Stellar Object Disks (images) H J-K <10 arcsec 12-20 1 0.1 0.5 own own
Planet Searches (images) H J-K <5 arcsec 20-29 1 - 0.5 own own
Studies of Star Formation (spectra) K K 20 arcsec - 1 <0.1 0.5 non-
random
non-
random
Local Group Star Clusters (images) K J-K 20 arcsec 20-26 100 <0.1 0.3 9% 90%
Local Group Young Stars (spectra) K I-K 10 arcsec 18-20 ~20 0.3 0.2 22% 100%
Local Group Old Stars (spectra) K I-K 10-20 arcsec 20-23 10-100 <0.3 0.3 9% 90%
Galaxy Nuclei Dynamics (spectra) K I-K 10 arcsec 14-17 1 <0.1 0.3 9% 90%
Starburst Galaxies (spectra) K J-K 20 arcsec 19-23 10-20 <0.3 0.2 22% 100%
QSO Hosts (images) H I-K 20 arcsec 18-23 2-4 0.3 0.3 non-
random
non-
random
QSO Hosts (spectra) H I-K 20 arcsec 15-21 2-4 0.1 0.2 non-
random
non-
random
Gravitational Arcs (images) H I-K 20 arcsec 19-23 1-10 <0.1 0.3 0.6% 7%
Gravitational Arcs (spectra) H I-K 20 arcsec 19-23 1-10 <0.1 0.3 0.6% 7%
z<3 Galaxies and Clusters (images) H I-K 30 arcsec 20-26 ~60 0.2 0.2 4% 56%
z<3 Galaxies and Clusters (spectra) H I-K 30 arcsec 19-24 ~40 0.2 0.2 4% 56%
z<3 Galaxies and Clusters (images) K I-K 30 arcsec 20-26 ~60 0.2 0.2 22% 100%
z<3 Galaxies and Clusters (spectra) K I-K 30 arcsec 19-24 ~40 0.2 0.2 22% 100%

2. Science Drivers for Future Gemini AO


An assessment of the sky coverage gains from a laser beacon guide star adaptive optics system produce strong scientific drivers to advance the capabilities of the Gemini adaptive optics program to sodium laser guide stars. The Future Gemini Instrumentation workshop held in Abingdon, UK on January 18-19th, 1997 addressed the science drivers for future Gemini instrumentation program. The outcome of this program is summarized in the Gemini report RPT-PS-G0075 : Future Gemini Instrumentation. A summary table from this workshop is presented below.

Table 2 - Science Drivers for New Instrumentation Capabilities
SCIENTIFIC

PROGRAMS

A&G Polarization
Modulator
AOS IR Imager/
Coronagraph
IR MOS Hi Stab
Lab Spec
LGS

>0.4

NGS

>0.9

>3' FOV AO IFU
0.4-1Ám 1-5Ám 30K 5K 30k 5k 30k 5k 150k 300k 500k
A. Stars & Planetary System
--BD & giant planets       X X         X X X X  
--physics of nearby stars             X   X       X  
--stars in other galaxies     X   X   X   X   X      
--surface structure/active processes X X X                   X  
B. Star Formation & ISM
--initial mass function     X   X       X          
--molecular clouds & cores                            
--disks & envelopes   X X   X         X        
--young substellar objects     X   X           X X   X
C. Galactic Structure & Nearby Galaxies
--massive stars     X           X   X X    
--star clusters     X   X       X   X      
--galactic nuclei     X   X       X   X      
D. Formation & Evolution of Galaxies/Cosmology
--evolution of galaxies     X       X   X   X      
--studies of AGN's X X X   X       X   X      
--galaxies probes of HiZ structure     X       X   X          
--QSO's as probes of HiZ universe     X   X           X     X


 
 

Table 3 - Science Drivers for Upgrades to Phase I Instruments
SCIENTIFIC

PROGRAMS

UPGRADES SHARED INSTRUMENTS
HROS
R=120k
MK AOS
LB
GMOS NIRS MICHELLE PHOENIX
0.1" IFU 1-1.5Ám R=25k IFU R~25k
A. Stars & Planetary System
--Brown Dwarfs & giant Planets X         X   X X
--physics of stars X               X
--stars in other galaxies X       X   X   X
--active stars               X X
B. Star Formation
--initial mass function   X              
--molecular clouds & cores             X X X
--disks & envelopes   X       X X X X
--young substellar objects   X X            
C. Galactic Structure & Nearby Galaxies
--massive stars X               X
--star clusters X X X   X X X X  
--galactic nuclei X X X   X X X X  
D. Formation & Evolution of Galaxies/Cosmology
--evolution of galaxies   X X X X        
--AGN's   X X X          
--galaxies as probes of structure   X X X X        
--QSO's & Hi-Z universe X X X X X     X X


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Page Compiled by Mark Chun. Last update January 18, 2000; Francois Rigaut