The Gemini NICI Planet-Finding Campaign


Michael Liu




Our team is currently carrying out a 50-night, 300-star observing campaign to directly image and characterize young (< 1 Gyr) extrasolar planets using the Near-Infrared Coronagraphic Imager (NICI) on the Gemini-South 8.1-meter telescope. NICI was designed from the outset for high-contrast imaging, comprising a high-performance adaptive optics (AO) system with a simultaneous dual-channel coronagraphic imager. In combination with state-of-the-art AO observing and data analysis, NICI typically achieves about 1-2 magnitudes better contrast compared to previous ground-based or space-based planet-finding efforts, at separations inside of 2 arcseconds. We have also carried out complementary efforts to identify previously unrecognized young stars as targets, to develop a rigorous quantitative methodology for constructing the observing strategy, and to optimize the combination of the angular differential imaging (ADI) and spectral differential imaging (SDI) observing techniques. The Planet-Finding Campaign will have completed its second year of observing by Fall 2010, with deep imaging of 150 stars already obtained. We describe the Campaign’s goals, design, target selection, on-sky performance, and results. The NICI Planet-Finding Campaign represents the largest and most sensitive imaging survey to date for massive ( 1 Mjup) planets around other stars.

Attached documents

Lyot2010proc s2 talk LiuM.pdf
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