GeminiFocus January 2018 | Page 10

John Blakeslee Science Highlights Gravitationally lensed velocity maps from the Near-infrared Integral Field Spectrometer on Gemini North reveal ordered rotation of the most distant kinematically confirmed spiral galaxy. An X-ray source previously thought to be embedded in the outer disk of Andromeda emerges as the active nucleus of a background galaxy that may harbor a tightly bound supermassive black hole binary. Spectroscopic data from the Gemini Near-InfraRed Spectrometer help pin down the mass of the supermassive black hole powering the most distant quasar yet discovered. And high-resolution near- infrared imaging with the Gemini Multi-conjugate adaptive optics System on Gemini South uncovers dust-enshrouded supernovae in luminous infrared galaxies. The Most Distant Kinematically Confirmed Spiral Galaxy A team of astronomers using the Near-infrared Integral Field Spectrometer (NIFS) on Gem- ini North have confirmed the most distant kinematically confirmed spiral known to date. Spiral galaxies like the Milky Way have multiple structural components that formed at dis- tinct times in the galaxy’s evolutionary history. These components include the stellar halo, bulge, gas-poor thick disk, and gas-rich thin disk. Based on the maximum ages of their constituent stars, the disk components, which are emblematic of spirals and participate in ordered rotation about the Galactic center, are the least ancient parts of the Milky Way. The thick disk appears to date from about 10 billion years ago, while the thin disk began form- ing 2 or 3 billion years after that. If the Milky Way is typical, then we should not expect to be able to identify many spiral galaxies at distances beyond about 10 billion light years, or a redshift z beyond about 2. 8 GeminiFocus January 2018