New direct image of an exoplanet, and first light for Gemini South’s new planet imager!

And this one is the best yet, not the least bit ambiguous.  It represents first light for the Gemini South observatory’s Gemini Planet Imager.

fig1

It’s the first exoplanet imaged by the Gemini Observatory’s Planet Imager, located at the 8-meter Gemini South telescope at Cerro Pachon in Chile’s Andes mountains, and it orbits the star Beta Pictoris.  The planet is Beta Pictoris b, and it has been imaged before (by the Very Large Telescope), but never before in this detail.  What’s more, this image (taken last November) only took sixty seconds to acquire, which is very fast compared to other exoplanet images.  This shows great promise for the instrument, which should revolutionize exoplanet studies by allowing direct measurements of the planets’ spectra — the GPI returns spectra data on every individual pixel in the image.

Pretty dang cool.  😉

Gemini Planet Imager First Light!

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