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Ultrasharp Large-Field Images Of The Universe Delivered By GeMS

4 July, 2013

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MessageToEagle.com - Gemini Observatory's GeMS - revolutionary new adaptive optics system is ready to deliver ultrasharp, large-field images of the universe, without atmospheric distortions.

The first seven images present the spectacular cluster identified as RMC 136 and the remaining six - spanning views of violent star-forming regions, to the graceful interaction of distant colliding galaxies.

However, this is just a sample of the perfection of this unique instrument at Gemini South in Chile.


Images from the Gemini Multi-conjugate adaptive optics System (GeMS) System Verification science observations. Credit: Image design by Eve Furchgott, Blue Heron Multimedia. Credit: Gemini Observatory/AURA


According to Robert Blum, Deputy Director of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, the data delivered by GeMS is simply spectacular.

"What we have seen so far signals an incredible capability that leaps ahead of anything in space or on the ground - and it will for some time."

Unlike previous AO systems, GeMS uses a technique called "multi-conjugate adaptive optics," which not only captures more of the sky in a single shot - between 10- to 20-times more area of sky imaged in each "picture".

It also forms razor-sharp images uniformly across the entire field, from top-to-bottom and edge-to-edge.

"Each image tells a story about the scientific potential of GeMS," says Benoit Neichel who led the GeMS commissioning effort in Chile.

The targets were selected to demonstrate the instrument's diverse "discovery space" while producing striking images, according to Neichel.


Click on image to enlarge

NGC 4038: This multiple pointing, 3-band, near-infrared image (right), obtained with GeMS/GSAOI reveals remarkable, colorful details in NGC 4038, one of the components of the Antennae Galaxies (NGC 4038/NGC 4039), despite a short total exposure time. The image to left shows a larger HST optical image with the Gemini GeMS image inset for scale and comparison. Credit: Gemini Observatory/AURA


More images

The unique instrument's amazing quality is already highly appreciated by astronomers because it enables to see individual stars millions of light-years away.

"GeMS sets the new cool in adaptive optics," says Tim Davidge, an astronomer at Canada's Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, who studies populations of stars within galaxies beyond our Milky Way.

"It opens up all sorts of exciting science possibilities for Gemini, while also demonstrating technology that is essential for the next generation of ground-based mega-telescopes.

With GeMS we are entering a radically new, and awesome, era for ground-based optical astronomy."

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