Let The Battle Begin!

In this corner, the newcomer, SPHERE!

The Spectro-Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet REsearch telescope trained and managed exclusively by the European Space Agency.

And in this corner, another newcomer, the Gemini Planet Imager! Born and trained in North America.

Both these bruisers are set to battle it out for the title of King of Exoplanet imaging!

File:Beta Pictoris.jpg

While most of their contemporaries find planets the old fashioned way, these two imager’s are going to take actual pictures of exoplanets!

Fighting it out down in Chile.  This battle is not to be missed!  And who will win this battle?  Why, we will!  Good luck to both teams and may the data flow begin.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

I’m Kinda Sensitive.

No, not me.  I’m a ruff an tumble sort of fellow.  Except when I am sick (like now) and want some mothering.  Oh well, such is life.

The sensitive kind I am referring to is a new Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) camera that was installed on the 8-meter Gemini South telescope.  Perhaps they need to stop naming everything Gemini, it could get redundant (get it?  Gemini?  The Twins? Redundant!  Oh, I still slay me).

https://i0.wp.com/www.gemini.edu/sciops/instruments/gpi/gpi_data_format.png

According to the GPI website: “GPI is an extreme adaptive-optics imaging polarimeter/integral-field spectrometer, which will provide diffraction-limited data between 0.9 and 2.4 microns. The system will provide contrast ratios of 10^7 on companions at separations of 0.2-1 arcsecond in a 1-2 hour observation.”  Which means it is a really sensitive camera.

What is even more amazing is that the GPI was built at the American Museum of Natural History, not NASA or any other space agency.

The Gemini Planet Imager’s first light image of Beta Pictoris b (Processing by Christian Marois, NRC Canada)

So what can this new camera do?  The image above (processed by Christian Marois, NRC Canada) is our first actual real image of an exoplanet!  This is the first direct method that scientists have to confirm the existence of exoplanets.  Before, exoplanets were inferred from data.

It sort of looks like IBM’s images of atoms.  Although IBM has the ability to manipulate atoms to forming cool pictures (and even movies), I don’t think that we will have that much sway over planetary objects.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman