Press Release

Gemini Observatory Celebrates 1,000th Paper

By SpaceRef Editor
November 2, 2011
Filed under , ,

The one-thousandth paper, a recent discovery of unidentified material between stars in the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, is the “tip of a scientific iceberg” according to Gemini Observatory’s director Dr. Fred Chaffee. “This latest result is typical of the new and exciting ways astronomers explore the universe with the 8-meter Gemini telescopes,” he said. “Findings like this inspire us and we look forward to the next thousand papers to come.”

Gemini astronomer Tom Geballe led the research team that made the observations and wrote the paper, published in the November 2nd electronic edition of the Journal Nature. The team reports the discovery of thirteen new members of what are called diffuse interstellar bands (DIBs). The new bands were found while the team was observing stars near the center of our galaxy. “These are the longest-wavelength DIBs known,” said Geballe.

DIBs are formed by the absorption of light by molecules in interstellar space lying between a distant light source and us. While many interstellar absorptions have been associated with specific molecules, the identification of molecules associated with DIBs has stumped scientists since the first examples were reported some 90 years ago.

“We believe that the new absorptions actually occur in the galactic center,” said Geballe. “Our accidental discovery of them is significant because of the long wavelengths of these DIBs and because we now know that the molecules producing DIBs can exist in a much harsher environment than where they have been previously found.”

For more details on this work see the press release from the Rochester Institute of Technology: http://www.rit.edu/news/story.php?id=48672

Also see the paper in the 2 November 2011 electronic edition of the journal Nature: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature10527

A list of the top stories and images highlighted during the Gemini Gems thousandth paper celebration is updated regularly and includes a link to become a Facebook friend of Gemini: http://www.gemini.edu/geminigems

A listing of some of the most significant findings from Gemini can also be found online: http://www.gemini.edu/sciops/releases

Gemini is grateful to the user community for finding innovative and exciting ways to explore the universe with the twin Gemini 8-meter telescopes. The staff of the observatory is looking forward to the next thousand papers.

Science Contacts:
Thomas Geballe
Gemini Observatory, Hilo Hawai’i
+1 (808) 974-2519
tgeballe@gemini.edu

Nancy Levenson
Gemini Observatory, La Serena Chile
+56 (51) 205603
nlevenson@gemini.edu

# # #

The Gemini Observatory is an international collaboration with two identical 8-meter telescopes. The Frederick C. Gillett Gemini Telescope is located on Mauna Kea, Hawai’i (Gemini North) and the other telescope on Cerro Pachon in central Chile (Gemini South); together the twin telescopes provide full coverage over both hemispheres of the sky. The telescopes incorporate technologies that allow large, relatively thin mirrors, under active control, to collect and focus both visible and infrared radiation from space.

The Gemini Observatory provides the astronomical communities in seven partner countries with state-of-the-art astronomical facilities that allocate observing time in proportion to each country’s contribution. In addition to financial support, each country also contributes significant scientific and technical resources. The national research agencies that form the Gemini partnership include: the US National Science Foundation (NSF), the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), the Canadian National Research Council (NRC), the Chilean Comision Nacional de Investigacion Cientifica y Tecnologica (CONICYT), the Australian Research Council (ARC), the Argentinean Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Cientificas y Tecnicas (CONICET) and the Brazilian Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Cientifico e Tecnologico CNPq). The observatory is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA) under a cooperative agreement with the NSF. The NSF also serves as the executive agency for the international partnership.

SpaceRef staff editor.