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Gemini Planet Finder

Abstract: More than a thousand extrasolar planets are now known, but almost all detected through indirect methods - Doppler shifts of the parent star or dimming of the star as the planet transits it. A handful of planets have been directly imaged, blocking out the parent star to spatially resolve it from the planet. This is extremely challenging - with current technology limited to massive young planets ~10^4 fainter than their host star. The Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) is a new dedicated instrument intended only for exoplanet imaging. It combines advanced adaptive optics, precision wavefront sensing, diffraction-blocking masks, and a infrared imaging spectrograph to discover and characterize giant exoplanets at contrast levels up to 10^7. GPI was constructed by a US/Canadian consortium including the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, UCLA, JPL, AMNH, and the Canadian National Research Council. GPI required a number of novel technologies such as silicon MEMS deformable mirrors, and an integrated approach to design oriented towards its specific science goals. It has now been deployed on the 8-m Gemini South telescope, with first light in november 2013. I will discuss the design and construction of the Gemini Planet imager, including the process of moving from science requirements to design concept, a simple Fourier optics analysis of the instrument, systems engineering, the integration and test process, and present first-light results from the observing run.
Speaker: Bruce Macintosh - Stanford University
Speaker Bio: Bruce Macintosh is a professor of Physics at Stanford. He obtained his Ph.D. from UCLA in 1994, working in the infrared instrumentation laboratory. He went to Lawrence Livermore National Labortory as postdoctoral researcher and remained at LLNL as a staff scientist through 2013. Dr. Macintosh is the Principal Investigator for the Gemini Planet Imager, a next-generation adaptive optics coronagraphic spectrograph designed to image and characterize extrasolar planets, now deployed on the Gemini South telescope.
Poster Link: Poster
Presentation: Presentation on 3/12/2014 (PDF)