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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Sep 2;111(35):12661-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1304215111. Epub 2014 May 12.

First light of the Gemini Planet imager.

Author information

1
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA 94551; Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305; bmacintosh@stanford.edu.
2
Astronomy Department, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720;
3
Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305;
4
Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada M5S 3H4;
5
National Research Council of Canada Herzberg, Victoria, BC, Canada V9E 2E7;
6
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, MD 21218;
7
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA 94551;
8
Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721;
9
Department of Astrophysical Sciences, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544;
10
Gemini Observatory, Hilo, HI 96720;
11
Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095;
12
School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287;
13
University of California Observatories/Lick Observatory, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064;
14
Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic and Département de Physique, Université de Montréal, Montréal, QC, Canada H3T 1J4;
15
SETI Institute, Carl Sagan Center, Mountain View, CA 94043;
16
NASA Ames Research Center, Mountain View, CA 94035;
17
Steward Observatory, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721;
18
Department of Astrophysics, American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY 10024;
19
Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853;
20
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, MD 21218; Department of Astrophysics, American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY 10024;
21
Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602;
22
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125; and.
23
Department of Physics and Astronomy, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218.

Abstract

The Gemini Planet Imager is a dedicated facility for directly imaging and spectroscopically characterizing extrasolar planets. It combines a very high-order adaptive optics system, a diffraction-suppressing coronagraph, and an integral field spectrograph with low spectral resolution but high spatial resolution. Every aspect of the Gemini Planet Imager has been tuned for maximum sensitivity to faint planets near bright stars. During first-light observations, we achieved an estimated H band Strehl ratio of 0.89 and a 5-σ contrast of 10(6) at 0.75 arcseconds and 10(5) at 0.35 arcseconds. Observations of Beta Pictoris clearly detect the planet, Beta Pictoris b, in a single 60-s exposure with minimal postprocessing. Beta Pictoris b is observed at a separation of 434 ± 6 milliarcseconds (mas) and position angle 211.8 ± 0.5°. Fitting the Keplerian orbit of Beta Pic b using the new position together with previous astrometry gives a factor of 3 improvement in most parameters over previous solutions. The planet orbits at a semimajor axis of [Formula: see text] near the 3:2 resonance with the previously known 6-AU asteroidal belt and is aligned with the inner warped disk. The observations give a 4% probability of a transit of the planet in late 2017.

KEYWORDS:

debris disks; extreme adaptive optics; high-contrast imaging

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