For a Limited Time Only: Sign up now to participate in new large programs at the JCMT!

From/de Chris Wilson
(Cassiopeia – Summer/été 2017)

The results of the second round of Large Programs on the JCMT have been announced! This time large nine programs were awarded JCMT time (you can see the list with links to the program web pages here):

  • BISTRO-2: an extension to the BISTRO program
  • CHIMPS2: Resolving Star Formation in the Galactic Plane with HARP
  • NESS: The Nearby Evolved Star Survey
  • HASHTAG: HARP and SCUBA-2 High-Resolution Terahertz Andromeda Galaxy Survey
  • JINGLE II: the ISM of starbursts and green valley galaxies
  • NEP: Extragalactic JCMT Survey of the North Ecliptic Pole
  • eS2COSMOS: Extending an EAO SCUBA-2 survey to unveil the COSMOS field
  • S2LXS: SCUBA-2 Large eXtragalactic Survey
  • STUDIES-SXDS: A second pointing for the SCUBA-2 Ultra Deep Imaging EAO survey

For specific details of each program including the number of hours awarded per weather band and instrument requested please click here.

The JCMT will hold a period of open enrolment that will open soon and will close on 1st August 2017. Astronomers from any Canadian institution who are interested in the science of one or more large programs are welcome to join during this open enrolment period. Please keep an eye on the JCMT website for instructions on how to enroll or feel free to contact Chris Wilson at McMaster for more information.

In other news, Canadian participation in the JCMT has been secured for a further two years (covering the period February 1, 2017 to January 31, 2019) thanks to an award from NSERC’s RTI Operation and Maintenance Support program (PI: C. Wilson) as well as continuing financial contributions from McMaster University, the University of Alberta, and the University of Waterloo. The Canadian community also continues to receive additional credit for observing time in the PI queue thanks to the continued hosting of the JCMT archive at the CADC.

So, consider joining one of the new large programs, and polish up your PI science for the next call for JCMT proposals, which will be due in mid-September.

JCMTUsersMeetingParticipants-Nanjing2017

BRITE Constellation Mission Update

By/par Gregg Wade, Canadian PI for BRITE
(Cassiopeia – Summer/été 2017)

BRITEpatch

BRITE-Constellation is an international space astronomy mission consisting of a fleet of 20x20x20 cm nanosatellites dedicated to precision optical photometry of bright stars in two photometric colours. The mission continues in full science operations, with 17 data releases to BRITE target PIs having already taken place, and many datasets available in the public domain from the BRITE public archive.

The most recent Call for Proposals closed on 01 December 2016, and 15 new proposals for observation were evaluated.

More information about the mission is available on our website: www.brite-constellation.at. General inquiries about BRITE Constellation should be directed to the BEST Chair, Andrzej Pigulski, Univ. Wroclaw, Poland: pigulski@astro.uni.wroc.pl or to Canadian PI Gregg Wade, RMC: wade-g@rmc.ca.

Operations

There are five operating BRITE satellites in the Constellation, collecting data on various sky fields in a coordinated programme to obtain well-sampled, longterm continuous (~6 months) light curves in both red and blue bandpasses.

As this issue of Cassiopeia went to press, here was the status of the sky assignments for the BRITE cubesats:

  • BRITE Toronto (Canada): Toronto observes with a red filter. It continues observing the Vel/Pic field after a record-breaking 215 days-long run. It is also observing the Ara/Sco field.
  • BRITE Lem (Poland): Lem observes with a blue filter. It is also observing the Vel/Pic field, along with the Sagittarius III field.
  • BRITE Heweliusz (Poland): Heweliusz observes with a red filter. This satellite is observing the Carina field.
  • UniBRITE (Austria): UniBRITE observes with a red filter. It is also observing the Sagittarius III field.
  • BRITE Austria (Austria): BRITE Austria observes with a blue filter. It is also observing the Sagittarius III field.

The BRITE Constellation observing programme from early 2017 through early 2019 has been planned by the BRITE Executive Science Team (BEST), and details are available on the BRITE photometry Wiki page.

Recent science results and technical papers

Studying the photometric and spectroscopic variability of the magnetic hot supergiant zeta Orionis Aa” (Buysschaert et al. 2017, A&A, in press):
To understand the variability of evolved massive stars in more detail, Buysschaert et al. present a study of the O9.2Ib supergiant zeta Ori Aa, the only currently confirmed hot supergiant to host a magnetic field. They perform a detailed frequency analysis to detect and characterize the star’s periodic variability, detecting two significant, independent frequencies, their higher harmonics, and combination frequencies. We confirm the variability with P_rot/4, likely caused by surface inhomogeneities, being the possible photospheric drivers of the discrete absorption components. No stellar pulsations were detected in the data.

Triple system HD 201433 with a SPB star component seen by BRITE-Constellation: Pulsation, differential rotation, and angular momentum transfer” (Kallinger et al. 2017, A&A, in press):
The SPB star HD 201433 is known to be part of a single-lined spectroscopic triple system, with two low-mass companions orbiting with periods of about 3.3 and 154 d. Kallinger et al. identify a sequence of 9 rotationally split dipole modes in the photometric time series and establish that HD 201433 is in principle a solid-body rotator with a very long rotation period. Tidal interaction with the inner companion has, however, significantly accelerated the spin of the surface layers by a factor of approximately one hundred. The angular momentum transfer onto the surface of HD201433 is also reflected by the statistically significant decrease of the orbital period of about 0.9 s during the last 96 years. Ultimately, the authors conclude that tidal interactions between the central SPB star and its inner companion have almost circularised the orbit but not yet aligned all spins of the system and have just begun to synchronise rotation.

Fig. 2: Final light curve of HD 201433 as obtained with the Canadian BRITE-Toronto satellite. The grey and black dots in the top panel represent the full and binned data, respectively. The bottom panels show enlargements of the full data set (red boxes in the top panel). From Kallinger et al. (2017).

Fig. 1: Final light curve of HD 201433 as obtained with the Canadian BRITE-Toronto satellite. The grey and black dots in the top panel represent the full and binned data, respectively. The bottom panels show enlargements of the full data set (red boxes in the top panel). From Kallinger et al. (2017).

BRITE-Constellation: Data processing and photometry” (Popowicz et al. 2017, A&A, in press):
The main aim of this third fundamental technical paper about BRITE-Constellation data is the presentation of procedures used to obtain high-precision photometry from a series of images acquired by the BRITE satellites in two modes of observing, stare and chopping. Popowicz et al. describe two pipelines corresponding to the two modes of observing. The assessment of the performance of both pipelines is presented. It is based on two comparisons, which use data from six runs of the UniBRITE satellite: (i) comparison of photometry obtained by both pipelines on the same data, which were partly affected by charge transfer inefficiency (CTI), (ii) comparison of real scatter with theoretical expectations. It is shown that for CTI-affected observations, the chopping pipeline provides much better photometry than the other pipeline. For other observations, the results are comparable only for data obtained shortly after switching to chopping mode. Starting from about 2.5 years in orbit, the chopping mode of observing provides significantly better photometry for UniBRITE data than the stare mode. This paper shows that high-precision space photometry with low-cost nano-satellites is achievable. The proposed methods, used to obtain photometry from images affected by high impulsive noise, can be applied to data from other space missions or even to data acquired from ground-based observations.

Fig. 1: Distribution of the observations from all five BRITE satellites until the end of 2016. The data obtained in the stare and chopping observing modes are shown with unfilled and filled bars, respectively. From Popowicz et al. (2017).

Fig. 2: Distribution of the observations from all five BRITE satellites until the end of 2016. The data obtained in the stare and chopping observing modes are shown with unfilled and filled bars, respectively. From Popowicz et al. (2017).

Conferences, resources and social media

Conferences

The 3rd BRITE Constellation Science Conference will be hosted in Canada in August 2017. The conference, entitled “New scientific and technical achievements with BRITE”, will take place at the Auberge du Lac Taureau, located 2.5h north of Montréal, from 6-10 August. Late registration may still be possible by contacting brite2017@astro.umontreal.ca.

Resources

The BRITE Public Data Archive, based in Warsaw, Poland, at the Nikolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center, can be accessed at brite.camk.edu.pl/pub/index.html

The mission Wiki (including information on past, current and future fields) can be accessed at brite.craq-astro.ca/

BRITE Constellation is now on Facebook, at @briteconstellation

The BRITE International Advisory Science Team

The BRITE International Advisory Science Team (BIAST), which consists of BRITE scientific PIs, technical authorities, amateur astronomers, and mission fans, advises the mission executive on scientific and outreach aspects of the mission. If you’re interested to join BIAST, contact Canadian BRITE PI Gregg Wade: wade-g@rmc.ca.

Report from LRPIC

From/de John Hutchings
(Cassiopeia – Summer/été 2017)

The LRP has a number of challenges at present, arising from different events and situations. We will continue to engage the community on these matters as they evolve.

TMT

The CATAC advisory committee has been very active and their report is also in this issue. The LRPIC has focussed more on alternatives to TMT should it no longer be a viable large telescope for Canada. This and related matters are in open discussion on the LRPIC-discuss mailing list, and there has been an open webex discussion and a plenary session at CASCA to give the community opportunities to be involved. The possibility of joining ESO has been the principal focus of these, although possible, but unspecified, collaboration between TMT and GMT has been in the background. At this point, LRPIC considers that the ESO alternative is risky in terms of government funding and approval, as well as being a major change in all our operations that may be unwieldy. Thus, as long as TMT proceeds with construction next year, at either site, we remain committed to it, with strong preference for the Hawaii site, if it is possible. However, major funding issues and solutions need more clarification to keep the confidence of the community.

SKA

The project has been undergoing a significant cost-saving exercise to keep SKA1 within the agreed budget. Ongoing concerns are that key science capability be retained, how Canadian partnership may be negotiated in the new IGO structure, and that Canadian contributions be agreed that enable our desired share of about 6%. A workshop to discuss these, and other radio facilities for the future, is to be held at McGill on September 13-14.

MSE

The design process is proceeding well and should be complete by the end of the calendar year. The challenges ahead include funding by all partners, and clarity on the future of MaunaKea for this and other telescopes.

CSA

The CSA budget currently is unable to support the LRP plans for WFIRST, CASTOR, SPICA, LiteBIRD, and Athena, and of course, any new opportunities that may arise in the next decade. This is a result of space science funding and priority having been badly eroded over the past years, with resources almost entirely dedicated to ISS and Radarsat. This dire overall situation is the subject of lobbying via the Coalition, input to the newly appointed Space Advisory Board, and a `white paper’ prepared by several members of the astronomy community. LRPIC is also participating in these initiatives.

Good news

This includes the expected completion, and early science commissioning of CHIME at DRAO this summer, the funding of access to JCMT by NSERC, and the beginning of construction of CCAT-prime, with expected Canadian partnership. We are following the future evolution of Gemini and possible links to Subaru, which are currently in play.

Survey says…

By/par Magdalen Normandeau (Cassiopeia co-editor)
(Cassiopeia – Summer/été 2017)

“Is anyone going to read this?” That’s what I asked myself as I pulled together a recent edition of the Cassiopeia. It seemed like an important question to ask about a newsletter. When it was first created, the purpose of Cassiopeia was clear: without the web or email, the hardcopy newsletter that members received a few times per year was an important tool for keeping the CASCA community in the loop about observatories, instruments, big projects, etc. Now, however, there’s email and a web page in addition to the newsletter, so does the Cassiopeia still serve a purpose?

Word cloud

Wordcloud created using the responses to the question “In your opinion, what is or should be the purpose of the Cassiopeia newsletter?” Words that appeared more often are in larger font. The colours and placement have no meaning.

When asked what the purpose of Cassiopeia is or should be, many CASCA members referred to community (the Canadian astronomy community, the CASCA community). For example, one survey respondent wrote “To relay news from the community to the community,” while another contributed “créer un esprit de communauté pan canadien.” One senior member of CASCA wrote: “I lived thru the pre-CASCA wars. Never let that kind of situation develop again. The newsletter has been a successful unifying factor.”

The majority (67%) of those who responded to the survey in April 2017 indicated that CASCA should continue to publish Cassiopeia, while only 11% said that Cassiopeia should be discontinued. However, most CASCA members did not choose to complete the survey: 139 surveys submitted – 119 in English and 20 in French. In other words, roughly a quarter of CASCA members were sufficiently interested to complete the survey. Thirty-one other people began the survey but did not get past the third question. Of those who completed the survey, 57% work or study at a university with opportunities for graduate work in astronomy and 23% work for a governmental agency (NRC, CSA). At 26.5%, mid-career people made up the greatest proportion of respondents from academia, followed by late career at 19.7% and emeritus at 14.5%. Only 6 graduate students and 7 postdocs chose to complete the survey, suggesting a lack of interest in CASCA affairs among the younger members.

While 69% of respondents were likely or very likely to read the titles in the announcement email for a new edition of Cassiopeia, only 57% were likely or very likely to follow through to look at the web actual newsletter. This corresponds to approximately 18% of CASCA members. Reasons given for being unlikely to read Cassiopeia include lack of time/feeling overwhelmed (22), information being available from other sources (13), lack of interest (8) and aspects related to presentation or format (8).

Types of articles

A list of types of articles that recently appeared in Cassiopeia was given for consideration. In retrospect, when designing the survey, it would have been more useful to have 3 categories for instruments/observatories instead of specifying instruments: 1) operational, 2) under development, 3) proposed. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Be that as it may, the results are presented in the figure below. Only for the LRP updates and the message from the president did more than 50% of respondents indicate that they were likely or very likely to completely read the article.

Bar chart - Current article types

Responses to “How likely is it that you will at least scan or partially read the following article types?” The list of article types was drawn up based on the table of contents of recent editions of Cassiopeia.
Deep red = very unlikely. Deep blue = very likely. Stars indicate those for which more than half of the respondents indicated likely or very likely. Two stars indicate those that more than half the respondents indicated they were likely or very likely to read fully.

Members were also asked what they would like to read. The figure below shows the responses for the list of possibilities presented. More than 50% of respondents expressed interest in articles about statistics related to astronomy in Canada, award announcements, reports from the Ground-Based Astronomy Committee and from the Joint Committee on Space Astronomy, as well as conference announcements.

Responses to the question: "How likely would you be to read these types of articles?" Deep red = very unlikely. Deep blue = very likely.  Stars indicate those for which more than half the respondents chose "likely" or "very likely".

Responses to the question: “How likely would you be to read these types of articles?” Deep red = very unlikely. Deep blue = very likely. Stars indicate those for which more than half the respondents chose “likely” or “very likely”.

In addition to the options listed, several suggestions were made. These mostly fell into 3 categories: 1) the business of astronomy (astronomy & politics ; NSERC ; grant policies & implementations ; CASCA Board agenda & major outcomes), 2) research (research-oriented articles; papers published in previous quarter ; summaries of current Canadian astronomy research accomplishments ; progress reports of major research efforts), 3) people (news on new staff, new PDF hires ; profiles of astronomers in the news ; what has become of…? ; obituaries).

Redundancy and format

redundancy

Given the multiple means of communication at CASCA’s disposal (email, web site, newsletter), members were asked if they considered redundancy between emailed information and Cassiopeia to be desirable. The answers shown in the figure on the right suggest that while most CASCA members consider repetition of information acceptable, many would appreciate it if articles in Cassiopeia were written as proper articles, not simply direct repetitions of email messages.

When asked about the importance of images in articles, only 19.5% of respondents indicated that they were not important. On the matter of whether or not photos of authors should be included, most were indifferent.

In the comments related to format, 5 people stated that they would like to have a PDF version of the newsletter so that they could read it offline, 4 stated that they would prefer one continuous post rather than each article being a separate post linked to a table of contents, and 2 people suggested that the email announcement for the newsletter could be in a format similar to that used by NRAO, i.e. all articles titles would be listed in the email, with each title linked to its article, and perhaps the first few lines of each article would appear in the email as well. The latter suggestion is relatively easy to implement if the editors send emails directly to the list rather than submitting the announcement via the CASCA webpage where it is not possible to include hyperlinks.

Language

Currently, articles in Cassiopeia are published in the language in which they are submitted. Most are submitted only in English, with a few being submitted in both languages (NRC-Herzberg, CSA, Gemini). No articles in French only have been submitted in recent years. There would be logistical challenges to having the entire newsletter translated: the deadline would need to be a few weeks before publication rather than a few days, and the cost would probably be $1000 per edition (it might be more: I haven’t done a word-count or updated my awareness of the going rate for translation in quite a while). However, it is important to consider the matter as the predominance of English may be a barrier to participation for some CASCA members.

Members were asked if they had any comments related to the fact that Cassiopeia is currently mostly in English. Only 2 people wrote that the newsletter should be fully bilingual, and another 2 indicated that translation would be “worth it if French-speakers feel that it is limiting their participation in astronomy communications.” Most respondents on the English version of the survey wrote that they would defer to their francophone colleagues on this matter. As indicated above, only 20 people responded to the French version of the survey, and 2 of these requested a fully bilingual Cassiopeia.

Two people suggested that short abstracts in the other language would be worth considering. Two members stated that the message from the president should be bilingual.

Moving forward: thoughts and suggestions

Back to my original question: “Will anyone read this?” The answer can be stated two ways: either “Very few will read it, but it’s important to those who do” or “It’s important to those who read it, but very few will.” The response rate for the survey was low, only ~25%, and not all who responded consider it worth continuing to publish Cassiopeia. On the other hand, those in favour of continuing to publish Cassiopeia presented compelling arguments for doing so. The decision of whether or not to continue with Cassiopeia rests with the Board.

If CASCA continues to publish Cassiopeia, I would suggest the following:

  • Save non-urgent matters for Cassiopeia

    Throughout the various comment sections in the survey, there were several mentions of receiving too much email via the CASCA email exploder. I would suggest that non-urgent matters should not be sent via email, that they only be communicated via Cassiopeia.

  • Have the message from the president in both languages

    While only two people thought to suggest this, it seems like a reasonable thing to do. The president can either write his/her article directly in both languages or have it translated. It should be submitted in both languages.
    [For this edition, the President's Message was finalized too late to allow translation.]

  • Use NRAO-style format for the announcement-of-publication email

    While only two people suggested this specifically in the “suggestions regarding format” section, similar things were mentioned by some elsewhere in the survey. As this is relatively easy to implement, it should be done.
    [Done. Was it helpful for you? If so, please let us know. It takes a while to set up, so it's only worth doing if it makes a positive difference.]

  • Add a link to Cassiopeia under the News tab on the CASCA website

    Based on some of the comments, it was clear that some people did not know how to access Cassiopeia other than through the link in the announcement email. While it is possible to navigate to Cassiopeia on the website, how to do so would be more obvious if Cassiopeia appeared under the News tab.
    [Up to those who control the CASCA website.]

  • Articles about awards should be part of Cassiopeia

    Members of the awards committee should be encouraged to write articles about awards and their recipients, preferably going beyond the contents of the announcement email and making good use of appropriate images.
    [Encouragement was sent. No articles received for this issue.]

  • Updates from the Ground-Based Astronomy Committee and the Joint Committee for Space Astronomy should be included

    Respondents indicated that these would be of interest. The members of these committees should be encouraged to submit articles.
    [Encouragement was sent. No articles received for this issue.]

  • Authors should think about communication when writing articles
    • Write an article not an email
    • Write for your audience
    • Write informative/compelling titles and 1st paragraphs
    • Include some relevant visuals
    • (And authors probably shouldn’t write an article as long as this one…)

Reminders

As it says in the description of Cassiopeia:

“Members are invited to submit letters or articles of interest, Departmental or Observatory news, instrumentation ideas or proposals, symposium and meeting reports, and so forth, for publication in Cassiopeia.”

Articles can be submitted in French, in English, or in both English and French.

Cassiopeia is the society’s newsletter, it is what you, members of the society, make it.

Canadian Gemini News / Nouvelles de l’Office Gemini Canadien

By/par Stéphanie Côté (NRC Herzberg)
(Cassiopeia – Summer/été 2017)

La version française suit

Laura Ferrarese Interim Director of Gemini!

Markus Kissler-Patig, current Gemini Director, will be stepping down in July, to return to ESO. Markus’s remarkable leadership has brought many new ideas and initiatives to Gemini during his 5-years term, and we will dearly miss him. We were happy to learn that none other than astronomer extraordinaire Laura Ferrarese from NRC-Herzberg will be taking the helm of Gemini as Interim Director for a one-year term! She will be serving in Hilo while an international search is underway for a new permanent Director. See the Gemini press release here. We are delighted to see Gemini in very capable Canadian hands in the year to come.

New Next Instrument announced: introducing OCTOCAM!

The next instrument to be built as a facility instrument for Gemini has been selected, it will be OCTOCAM. The PI is Antonio de Ugarte Postigo (IAA) with co-PI Pete Roming (Southwest Research Institute). It is an 8-channel imager and spectrograph that will simultaneously observe the g, r, i, z, Y, J, H, and Ks bands in a square field-of-view of 3′x3′, or a circular one with a diameter of 4.24′. It can also do long slit (3′ long) spectroscopy with a resolution of R ~ 4,000, simultaneously covering the range between 0.37 – 2.35 microns.

The eight independent arms in OCTOCAM allow the user to adjust exposure times in each bandpass for increased efficiency and the best match to observing conditions. By using state of the art detectors – frame transfer in the optical and CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) in the near infrared – OCTOCAM will have negligible readout times enabling high time-resolution observations (< 50 ms for a 30x30 pixel window). This temporal resolution will open up a new region of observation space.

Figure 1- OCTOCAM’s light path: the near-infrared optical bench (on top) will be cryogenically cooled. The visible optical bench (bottom) will be at ambient temperature. The instrument is simple and compact, with a minimum number of moving parts. Image Credit: A.de Ugarte Postigo

Figure 1- OCTOCAM’s light path: the near-infrared optical bench (on top) will be cryogenically cooled. The visible optical bench (bottom) will be at ambient temperature. The instrument is simple and compact, with a minimum number of moving parts. Image Credit: A.de Ugarte Postigo

Maunakea Dunlap Summer School students get VIP visit to Gemini

In order to insure that our Canadian observatories keep their leadership position, making Canadian research shine in tomorrow’s astronomical world, the contribution and training of young Canadian astronomers must be fostered through continued interactions. The Maunakea Dunlap Graduate School (MKDS) aims to expose Canadian astronomy graduate students to world-class instrumentation on site where they can participate in observations and data acquisition and processing, learn about the latest instrumentation, and interact with scientific and technical staff. Seven students from various Canadian universities participated in the 2017 MKDS last May, spending 10 days at the Gemini and CFHT headquarters and visiting various Maunakea Observatories, including the Gemini Northʻs Hilo Base Facility (HBF) and Gemini North’s summit telescope facility. At Gemini, students attended lectures by Gemini astronomers Laure Catala, André-Nicolas Chené, Inger Jorgensen, and Meg Schwamb who shared highlights on Geminiʻs recent science and instrumentation news. Students also acquired data using GMOS (under 0.5″ seeing!) and received instructions about data reduction. Similar equally successful and rewarding activities took place at CFHT. In addition to visiting and using CFHT and Gemini, students were able to visit the JCMT, Keck, and Subaru telescopes. This project is led by Prof. Stéphane Courteau at Queen’s University and Prof. Suresh Sivanandam at the Dunlap Institute. Canadian students wanting to participate in future MKDS must first attend the Dunlap Summer School on Astronomical Instrumentation.

Figure 2- Happy canadian students on their Gemini visit. Front row, left to right: Jonathan Saint-Antoine, Mie Beers, Vincent Chambouleyron, Nikhil Arora, Deborah Lockhorst, Taylor Roberton, Katie Harris. Back row, left to right: Gemini Public Information and Outreach Manager Peter Michaud, Suresh Sivanandam (Dunlap Institute), Stephane Courteau (group leader, Queen’s University), and Gemini Director Markus Kissler-Patig. Image Credit: Gemini Observatory/AURA

Figure 2- Happy canadian students on their Gemini visit. Front row, left to right: Jonathan Saint-Antoine, Mie Beers, Vincent Chambouleyron, Nikhil Arora, Deborah Lockhorst, Taylor Roberton, Katie Harris. Back row, left to right: Gemini Public Information and Outreach Manager Peter Michaud, Suresh Sivanandam (Dunlap Institute), Stephane Courteau (group leader, Queen’s University), and Gemini Director Markus Kissler-Patig. Image Credit: Gemini Observatory/AURA

Recent Canadian Gemini Press Releases

  • At the January 2017 AAS a team lead by Shriharsh Tendulkar (McGill) and including Victoria Kaspi (McGill) and Paul Scholz (NRC) presented the first optical follow-up of a Fast Radio Burst. Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are bright (~ Jy) and short (~ ms) bursts of radio emission, of which 18 have been detected over the past 10 years, but that had remained so far of unknown origin. FR121102 is the only repeat FRB for which it was then possible to get an accurate position (of 100 mas precision) thanks to VLA follow-up. Gemini then provided the crucial rapid follow-up to produce the first optical imaging and spectroscopy of a FRB. The Gemini data revealed that the FRB host is a small unassuming dwarf galaxy at z = 0.19, with a diameter of < 4 kpc and about 1% the mass of the Milky Way. This was surprising as it was assumed so far that most FRBs would come from large galaxies with more neutron stars (the top candidates to explain FRBs). This hints that FRBs may rather be linked to long-duration gamma-ray bursts and superluminous supernovae which frequently occur in dwarf galaxies. The paper published in ApJ is available here.
  • Figure 3 -Gemini composite image of the field around FRB 121102 (indicated). The dwarf host galaxy was imaged, and spectroscopy performed, using GMOS on the Gemini North telescope. Image Credit: Gemini Observatory/AURA/NSF/NRC

    Figure 3 -Gemini composite image of the field around FRB 121102 (indicated). The dwarf host galaxy was imaged, and spectroscopy performed, using GMOS on the Gemini North telescope. Image Credit: Gemini Observatory/AURA/NSF/NRC

  • In April an international team led by Wesley Fraser (Queen’s University, Belfast, UK) and including Brett Gladman (UBC), JJ Kavellars and Stephen Gwyn (NRC) had a press release with results from Gemini Large and Long Program “Colours of the Outer Solar System Object Survey” (Col-OSSOS). They studied a small population of blue-colored loosely-bound pairs of planetoids, hiding amongst the mainly red-colored Cold Classical Kuiper Belt objects. While the red CCKBOs are thought to have formed in their current location in the middle of the Kuiper Belt, this study suggests that the blue binaries actually formed in a region much closer to the Sun, and were then pushed out to their current location. This research indicates that when Neptune moved from 20 AU to its current location at 30 AU, several billions of years ago, this was a very slow and calm movement, which allowed the fragile and loosely bound binaries to be swept out a similar distance to where they are found currently without being disrupted into two separate single objects. The Nature Astronomy paper is available here.

Join the thousands and thousands of Gemini Observatory followers on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/GeminiObservatory and Twitter @GeminiObs



Laura Ferrarese Directrice Intérimaire de Gemini!

Markus Kissler-Patig, directeur actuel de Gemini, va se retirer de ses fonctions en juillet pour retourner à ESO. Le leadership remarquable de Markus a apporté de nombreuses nouvelles idées et initiatives à Gemini pendant son mandat de 5 ans, et il nous manquera beaucoup. Nous avons été heureux d’apprendre que nul autre que l’astronome exceptionnelle Laura Ferrarese du CNRC-Herzberg prendra la tête de Gemini comme directrice intérimaire pour un mandat d’un an! Elle servira à Hilo alors qu’une recherche internationale est en cours pour un nouveau directeur permanent. Consultez le communiqué de presse de Gemini ici. Nous sommes ravis de voir Gemini dans des mains canadiennes si compétentes dans l’année à venir.

Prochain nouvel instrument: voici OCTOCAM!

Le prochain instrument qui sera construit en tant qu` instrument de base pour Gemini a été sélectionné, ce sera OCTOCAM. Le PI est Antonio de Ugarte Postigo (IAA) avec le co-PI Pete Roming (Southwest Research Institute). Il s’agit d’un imageur et d’un spectrographe à 8 canaux qui observeront simultanément les bandes g, r, i, z, Y, J, H et Ks dans un champ de vision carré de 3′x3′ ou une circulaire de diamètre de 4,24 minutes d`arc. Il peut également faire de la spectroscopie à fente longue (sur 3′) avec une résolution de R ~ 4,000, couvrant simultanément la plage spectrale de 0,37 à 2,35 microns.

Les huit bras indépendants d’ OCTOCAM permettent à l’utilisateur d’ajuster les temps d’exposition dans chaque bande passante pour une efficacité accrue et une meilleure adaptation aux conditions d’observation. En utilisant des détecteurs de pointe – transfert de trâme dans l’optique et CMOS (semi-conducteur d’oxyde de métal complémentaire) dans l’infrarouge proche – OCTOCAM aura des temps de lecture négligeables permettant des observations à haute résolution de temps (< 50 ms pour une fenêtre de 30x30 pixels). Cette résolution temporelle ouvrira une nouvelle région d'espace d'observation.

Figure 1- Le trajet optique d'OCTOCAM: le banc optique en infrarouge proche (en haut) sera refroidi cryogéniquement. Le banc optique en visible (en bas) sera à température ambiante. L'instrument est simple et compact, avec un minimum de pièces mobiles. Crédit d'image: A.de Ugarte Postigo

Figure 1- Le trajet optique d’OCTOCAM: le banc optique en infrarouge proche (en haut) sera refroidi cryogéniquement. Le banc optique en visible (en bas) sera à température ambiante. L’instrument est simple et compact, avec un minimum de pièces mobiles. Crédit d’image: A.de Ugarte Postigo

Les étudiants du Maunakea Dunlap Summer School font une visite VIP à Gemini

Afin d’assurer que nos observatoires canadiens conservent leur position de leaders, et que la recherche canadienne continue de rayonner dans le monde astronomique de demain, la contribution et la formation des jeunes astronomes canadiens doivent être favorisées par des interactions continues. La Maunakea Dunlap Graduate School (MKDS) vise à exposer les étudiants diplômés canadiens en astronomie à l’instrumentation de classe mondiale in-situ où ils peuvent participer aux observations et à l’acquisition et au traitement de données, en apprendre davantage sur les derniers instruments de pointe, tout en interagissant avec le personnel scientifique et technique. Sept étudiants de diverses universités canadiennes ont participé au MKDS de 2017 en mai, en passant 10 jours au quartier général de Gemini et CFHT et en visitant divers observatoires au Maunakea, y compris la base de Gemini Nord à Hilo (HBF) ainsi que le télescope Gemini Nord au sommet. À Gemini, les étudiants ont assisté à des conférences par les astronomes Laure Catala, André-Nicolas Chené, Inger Jorgensen et Meg Schwamb qui ont partagé des points saillants sur les dernières nouvelles scientifiques et instrumentales de Gemini. Les étudiants ont également acquis des données avec GMOS (sous un seeing de moins de 0,5″!) et ils ont reçu des instructions sur la réduction de données. Des activités toutes aussi réussies et enrichissantes ont eu lieu à CFHT. En plus de visiter et utiliser CFHT et Gemini, les étudiants ont pu visiter les télescopes JCMT, Keck et Subaru. Ce projet est dirigé par le Professeur Stéphane Courteau de l’Université Queen’s et le Professeur Suresh Sivanandam de l’Institut Dunlap. Les étudiants canadiens qui souhaitent participer au futur MKDS doivent d’abord fréquenter l’école d’été Dunlap d’instrumentation astronomique.

Figure 2-Étudiants canadiens heureux de leur visite à Gemini. Première rangée, de gauche à droite: Jonathan Saint-Antoine, Mie Beers, Vincent Chambouleyron, Nikhil Arora, Deborah Lockhorst, Taylor Roberton, Katie Harris. En arrière, de gauche à droite: Responsable de l’Information et la Vulgarisation à Gemini, Peter Michaud, Suresh Sivanandam (Dunlap Institute), Stéphane Courteau (chef du groupe, Queen's University) et Directeur de Gemini Markus Kissler-Patig. Crédit d'image: Observatoire Gemini / AURA

Figure 2-Étudiants canadiens heureux de leur visite à Gemini. Première rangée, de gauche à droite: Jonathan Saint-Antoine, Mie Beers, Vincent Chambouleyron, Nikhil Arora, Deborah Lockhorst, Taylor Roberton, Katie Harris. En arrière, de gauche à droite: Responsable de l’Information et la Vulgarisation à Gemini, Peter Michaud, Suresh Sivanandam (Dunlap Institute), Stéphane Courteau (chef du groupe, Queen’s University) et Directeur de Gemini Markus Kissler-Patig. Crédit d’image: Observatoire Gemini / AURA

Communiqués de presse canadiens récents

  • Au AAS de janvier 2017, une équipe dirigée par Shriharsh Tendulkar (McGill) et incluant Victoria Kaspi (McGill) et Paul Scholz (NRC) a présenté le premier suivi optique d’un Fast Radio Burst. Ces explosions radio rapides (FRB) sont de puissantes (~ Jy) et très courtes (~ ms) émissions radio, dont 18 ont été détectées au cours des 10 dernières années, mais qui sont restées jusqu’à présent d’origines inconnues. FR121102 est la seule FRB répétitive pour laquelle il a été alors possible d’obtenir une position précise (à une précision de 100 mas) grâce à un suivi VLA. Gemini a ensuite fourni le suivi crucial rapide pour produire la première imagerie optique et spectroscopie d’un FRB. Les données de Gemini ont révélé que l’hôte du FRB est une petite galaxie naine sans prétention à z = 0,19, avec un diamètre <4 kpc et environ 1% de la masse de la Voie Lactée. Ceci est surprenant car on avait supposé jusqu'à présent que la plupart des FRB viendraient de grandes galaxies avec plein d'étoiles à neutrons (les meilleurs candidates pour expliquer les FRB). Cela indique que les FRB pourraient plutôt être liés à des rayonnements de rayons gamma de longue durée et à des supernovae superlumineuses qui se produisent fréquemment dans des galaxies naines. L’article publié dans ApJ est disponible ici.
  • Figure 3 - Image composite de Gemini du champ autour de FRB 121102 (indiqué). La galaxie naine hôtesse du FRB a été imagée, et des spectres ont aussi été obtenus, grâce à GMOS sur le télescope Gemini-Nord. Crédit d'image: Observatoire Gemini / AURA / NSF / NRC

    Figure 3 – Image composite de Gemini du champ autour de FRB 121102 (indiqué). La galaxie naine hôtesse du FRB a été imagée, et des spectres ont aussi été obtenus, grâce à GMOS sur le télescope Gemini-Nord. Crédit d’image: Observatoire Gemini / AURA / NSF / NRC

  • En avril, une équipe internationale dirigée par Wesley Fraser (Queen’s University, Belfast, Royaume-Uni) et incluant Brett Gladman (UBC), JJ Kavellars et Stephen Gwyn (NRC) ont émis un communiqué de presse sur les résultats de leur Programme Long et Large à Gemini “Colours of the Outer Solar System Object Survey” (Col-OSSOS). Ils ont étudié une petite population de paires de planétoïdes faiblement liées de couleur bleue, se cachant parmi les objets de la Ceinture de Kuiper Classique froide (CCKBO) qui sont principalement rouges. Alors que les CCKBO rouges sont censés s’être formés dans leur emplacement actuel au milieu de la ceinture de Kuiper, cette étude suggère que les binaires bleus se sont formés dans une région beaucoup plus proche du Soleil, et ont ensuite été poussés à leur emplacement actuel. Cette recherche indique que lorsque Neptune est passé de 20 UA à son emplacement actuel à 30 UA, il y a plusieurs milliards d’années, cela s’est produit par un mouvement très lent et calme qui a permis aux paires fragiles et faiblement liées d’être balayées d’une distance similaire pour se retrouver à leur emplacement actuel sans être séparées en deux objets individuels distincts. L’article Nature Astronomy est disponible ici.

Rejoignez les milliers et milliers de followers de l’Observatoire Gemini sur Facebook https://www.facebook.com/GeminiObservatory et Twitter @GeminiObs

2015 Martin Award

CASCA is pleased to announce that the recipient of the 2015 Peter G. Martin award is Dr. Laura Ferrarese of NRC-Herzberg.

Dr. Ferrarese received her PhD in 1996 from Johns Hopkins University, and became a tenured professor at Rutgers University 8 years later. In 2004, Dr. Ferrarese moved to Canada as a senior research officer at NRC-Herzberg, and was promoted to Principal Research Officer in 2012. She has been honoured with several prize and guest lectureships across North America such as the 2014 CASCA/RASC Helen Sawyer Hogg lecture, and was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal in 2012.

Dr. Ferrarese is an internationally recognised leader in galaxy dynamics and scaling relations, supermassive black holes, active galactic nuclei, and the extragalactic distance scale. In particular, her seminal work on the relationship between the masses of supermassive black holes and the stellar velocity dispersions of the bulges in their host galaxies is among the most highly cited papers in astronomy and astrophysics. Since that time, she has taken on leadership roles in several major galaxy surveys with the Hubble Space Telescope and the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope.

CASCA congratulates Dr. Ferrarese on the receipt of the 2015 Martin award.

2016 Plaskett Medal

CASCA is pleased to announce Dr. Jonathan Gagné as the 2016 recipient of the J.S. Plaskett Medal.

Dr. Gagné completed his doctoral studies at l’Université de Montréal under the supervision of Dr. David Lafrenière and Dr. René Doyon. His thesis, entitled “La recherche de naines brunes et étoiles de faible masse dans les associations cinématiques jeunes du voisinage solaire”, identifies and characterizes new substellar mass objects that belong to nearby young associations of stars. Dr. Gagné developed a powerful new algorithm to select highly probable substellar objects in young associations that is now widely used by the community. He also carried out an all-sky survey to identify, follow-up and characterize actual candidates, more than doubling the number of confirmed brown dwarfs.
Dr. Gagné is now widely recognized as a leading figure in the study of nearby young substellar objects.

Dr. Gagné is currently a Sagan Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism at the Carnegie Institution for Science, where he will work to identify and characterize young brown dwarfs with only a few times the mass of Jupiter.

CASCA congratulates Dr. Gagné on the receipt of the 2016 J.S. Plaskett Medal.

2016 Qilak Award for Astronomy Communications, Public Education and Outreach

CASCA is pleased to announce Dr. Jaymie Matthews, from the University of British Columbia, as the 2016 recipient of the Qilak Award.

After obtaining his Ph.D. from the University of Western Ontario in 1987, Dr. Matthews held positions at Western and l’Université de Montréal before moving to the University of British Columbia as a Killam Postdoctoral Fellow in 1988. He obtained tenure at UBC in 2000, and has been a full professor there since 2008.

Dr. Matthews’ dedication and boundless enthusiasm for communicating with the public about astronomy are illustrated by the dozens of outreach activities in which he participates annually, ranging from public presentations, to radio interviews, to campus tours, to TV show consultations. Beyond his legendary teaching reputation at UBC, he has given courses aimed at younger children as well as special lectures in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, the First Nations Summer Science Programme, and the Canadian Association of Physics (CAP) undergraduate lecture series, among many others. In recognition of these efforts, Dr. Matthews received the CAP Education Medal in 2002, was named an officer of the Order of Canada in 2006, and received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.

Please join CASCA in thanking Dr. Matthews for his selfless dedication to improving public understanding and appreciation of science and astronomy.

Alan Nursall, Featured Speaker at the CASCA-2017 EPO Session

By Sharon Morsink (CASCA EPO Committee member & CASCA-2017 co-organizer)
(Cassiopeia – Spring/printemps 2017)

This year’s CASCA conference in Edmonton will feature an invited talk by Alan Nursall in the Education and Public Outreach session. Alan is the President and CEO of Telus World of Science Edmonton, Edmonton’s Science Museum. He also hosts a weekly science segment on Discovery Channel Canada’s show Daily Planet. Past positions include Science Director at Science North in Sudbury. He holds an MSc in geography and meteorology from the University of Alberta. He has extensive science communication experience through his work at science centres and on television.

In a recent interview he was asked “Why is it important to get people excited about science?” His answer: “People always say, `Science takes the beauty out of everything.’ No, it doesn’t! Science is gorgeous. We need to have a continuous, ongoing discussion about how we understand our world, and science is one of the lenses.”

Alan Nursall’s talk will inspire us to continue to communicate our love of astronomy to the public.

Time Dependence of the RXTE X-ray Spectrum of Hercules X-1/HZ Hercules

(Cassiopeia – Spring/printemps 2017)

by Mohammed Hassan Abdallah
Thesis defended in September 2016
Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Calgary
Thesis advisor: Dr. Dennis Leahy

Abstract

We study the time dependence of the energy spectra (i.e. of the spectral model parameters, and the interpretation) of the X-ray binary system Hercules X-1/HZ Hercules (Her X-1/HZ Her) over the superorbital/35-day cycle. The results are discussed separately in two parts: one for the data during the main high state and one for the data obtained during low state and short high state. We made use of data collected by RXTE/PCA instrument in the standard-2 mode during the period from July,1996 to August of 2005 (MJD = 50290 to 53584) acquired as a result of 23 study proposals for observing the HZ Her/Her X-1 system. Observations made while the system was in anomalous low state (ALS) were removed, as the ALS are believed to be caused by a change in the status of the disc which results in disappearance of the 35-day superorbital cycle. In our data there are two anomalous low states (MJD = 51226:4 to 51756:9 & MJD = 52950:6 to 53159:4). Due to the rapid change of count rates and energy spectra during eclipse and dips periods, we remove these periods from our analysis. The main results during main high state are directly linked to the disc precession and its effect in occulting the central source and surrounding emission regions, while results obtained for the low state and short high state are related to the changing visibility of the irradiated face of HZ Her which contributes to the observed spectra by the reflected emission off of its heated face.