GeminiFocus October 2017 - Page 12

Figure 3. Gemini assistant scientist Hwihyun Kim describes the sequence of events at Gemini during the gravitational wave event in a video clip viewable here. Video credit: Gemini Observatory Gemini Observatory Director Laura Ferra- rese recounts the challenges faced by the flood of requests for observations once the source was pinpointed. “Several teams contacted us with requests to observe the source,” according to Ferrarese. “Everybody at Gemini was terribly excited: we all knew that we were witnessing a historical event!” Ferrarese adds that the greatest challenge involved scheduling the observations so that all of the teams would receive the data they needed — a task that, in her words, “required lots of coordination, and a good dose of diplomacy!” The challenges extended to the observations themselves, according to Gemini astrono- mer Hwihyun Kim, who was instrumental in obtaining the Gemini data which primarily used the FLAMINGOS-2 infrared imager and spectrograph. “We were very lucky with ob- serving this target,” says Kim. “It was not al- ways easy to see the source, but the field had 10 GeminiFocus a very bright star that helped our pointing even when the object was getting lost in the glow of twilight.” Kim adds that everyone in the control room was nervous as the obser- vati on window got shorter and shorter each night. “Each night we pointed the telescope until we hit the absolute lowest limit that the telescope could reach.” (See interview of Kim on the online version of the release.) “Gemini’s unique combination of depth and high-cadence through the hard work of staff like Kim have generated a totally unique data set for this fascinating event,” says Na- thaniel Butler from Arizona State University, and also part of the team with Troja and Cenko. Butler concludes, “The Gemini obser- vations will provide a critical perspective on gravitational waves for years to come.” Peter Michaud is the Public Information Out- reach Manager of Gemini Observatory. He can be reached at: [email protected] October 2017