Thursday, September 27, 2012

Gemini Observatory Images

While working on the online rockhounding adventures, I was trying to track down a a source for a graphic I want to use. I found out that it was produced by staff at the Gemini Observatory, located in Hawaii. Gemini was built and is operated by a partnership of seven countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Chile, Australia, Brazil and Argentina. The mission statement for Gemini is: To advance our knowledge of the Universe by providing the international Gemini Community with forefront access to the entire sky. Any astronomer in these countries can apply for time on Gemini, which is allocated in proportion to each partner's financial stake. The Gemini Observatory consists of twin 26.5 feet (8.1 m) diameter optical/infrared telescopes located on two of the best observing sites on the planet. From their locations on mountains in Hawaii and Chile, Gemini Observatory’s telescopes can collectively access the entire sky.  The first picture below was taken inside Gemini North.  The second picture is Gemini South.

 The Frederick C. Gillett Gemini North telescope is located on Hawaii's Mauna Kea as part of the international community of observatories that have been built to take advantage of the superb atmospheric conditions on this long dormant volcano that rises about 4,200 meters (13,800 feet) into the dry, stable air of the Pacific. The Gemini Observatory's international headquarters is located in Hilo, Hawai`i at the University of Hawaii Hilo's University Park.  The Gemini South telescope is located at about 2,750 meters (8,900 feet) elevation on a mountain in the Chilean Andes called Cerro Pachón.

When I went to their web page, I found some great photos. First, is a great picture of a portion of the Lagoon nebula (Messier 8, or M8), which is among the most striking examples of a stellar nursery in the Milky Way galaxy. Argentinean astronomers Julia Arias and Rodolfo Barbá have used the Gemini South telescope to obtain a dramatic image of the "star nursery" that is located some 5,000 lightyears away. The multi-hued scene is truly a psychedelic "flashback" as its photons had to travel through space for 5,000 years before they reached the gigantic Gemini 8-meter mirror. Astronomers sometimes call the region imaged the “Southern Cliff” because it resembles a sharp drop-off. Beyond the “cliff,” light from a spattering of young background stars in the upper left of the image shines through the cloudscape.

Arias and Barbá obtained the imaging data to explore the evolutionary relationship between the newborn stars and what are known as Herbig-Haro (HH) objects. HH objects form when young stars eject large amounts of fast-moving gas as they grow. This gas plows into the surrounding nebula, producing bright shock fronts that glow as the gas is heated by friction. The researchers found a dozen of these HH objects in the image. They also found that most of the newborn stars are embedded in the tips of thick dusty cosmic clouds, which have the appearance of bright-rimmed pillars.

The Lagoon nebula is located in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius in the southern Milky Way. Viewed through large amateur telescopes, it appears as a pale ghostly glow with a touch of pink. If you want to try to find M8 yourself, information is available at:

The next image is of a newly discovered nebula,Kronberger 61, that shows the ionized shell of expelled gas resembling a soccer ball. The light of the nebula is caused by the emission from twice-ionized oxygen. The originating star can be seen as the slightly bluer star very close to the center of the nebula. Below the bright star at left is a barred spiral galaxy in the distant background, careful inspection will reveal several additional distant galaxies in the image. The most amazing thing about this image is that it was found in partnership between an amateur astronomer and a professional.

This long-duration fish-eye view of the Gemini North telescope facility shows the glow of both dusk and dawn, as well as star trails, and the orange glow of the Gemini LGS laser as it tracks through the sky. The LGS laser from the W.M. Keck Observatory and the peak of Haleakalā on Maui can be seen on close examination of the image. The bright streak on the left is the setting moon.

This image is a Gemini artist's conceptualization of the environment around the super massive black hole at the center of Mrk 231. The broad outflow seen in the Gemini data is shown as the fan-shaped wedge at the top of the accretion disk around the black hole. This side-view is not what is seen from the Earth where we see it ‘looking down the throat’ of the outflow. A similar outflow is probably present under the disk as well and is hinted at in this illustration. The total amount of material entrained in the broad flow is at least 400 times the mass of the Sun per year.

This image is a composite of three color images taken on Nov. 18, 2010, by the Gemini North telescope in Hawaii. The composite image shows a belt that had previously vanished in Jupiter's atmosphere is now reappearing.

Image of NGC 6872 (left) and companion galaxy IC 4970 (right) locked in a tango as the two galaxies gravitationally interact. The galaxies lie about 200 million light-years away in the direction of the constellation Pavo (the Peacock).

This is a Gemini artist's concept drawing of W33A showing the accretion disk (yellow/orange), torus (dark ring around disk) and bi-polar outflow jets (blue) within the dense clouds of its stellar nursery.

Explaining how the most massive stars are born, deep within their stellar nurseries, is one of the most persistent mysteries in modern astronomy. Now, observations at the Gemini Observatory provide convincing new evidence that these stellar heavyweights may be born in much the same manner as lightweights like our Sun.

This Gemini artist's rendering of what HD 131488's inner planetary system might look like as two large rocky bodies collide. HD 131488 is located in the direction of the constellation Centaurus and is three times more massive and 33 times more luminous than our own Sun

Using the Gemini South telescope in Chile, astronomers at UCLA have found dusty evidence for the formation of young, rocky planets around a star some 500 light years distant. But these potential extrasolar worlds are alien in an even more intriguing way… In the aftermath of collisions between planetary embryos around this star the researchers discovered that the dusty debris bears no resemblance to the planetary building blocks of our own Solar System.

Information for this blog posting was found at:

No comments:

Post a Comment