We present a revision to the astrometric calibration of the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI), an instrument designed to achieve the high contrast at small angular separations necessary to image substellar and planetary-mass companions around nearby, young stars. We identified several issues with the GPI data reduction pipeline (DRP) that significantly affected the determination of the angle of north in reduced GPI images. As well as introducing a small error in position angle measurements for targets observed at small zenith distances, this error led to a significant error in the previous astrometric calibration that has affected all subsequent astrometric measurements. We present a detailed description of these issues and how they were corrected. We reduced GPI observations of calibration binaries taken periodically since the instrument was commissioned in 2014 using an updated version of the DRP. These measurements were compared to observations obtained with the NIRC2 instrument on Keck II, an instrument with an excellent astrometric calibration, allowing us to derive an updated plate scale and north offset angle for GPI. This revised astrometric calibration should be used to calibrate all measurements obtained with GPI for the purposes of precision astrometry.
An explanation for the origin of asymmetry along the preferential axis of the point spread function (PSF) of an AO system is developed. When phase errors from high-altitude turbulence scintillate due to Fresnel propagation, wavefront amplitude errors may be spatially offset from residual phase errors. These correlated errors appear as asymmetry in the image plane under the Fraunhofer condition. In an analytic model with an open-loop AO system, the strength of the asymmetry is calculated for a single mode of phase aberration, which generalizes to two dimensions under a Fourier decomposition of the complex illumination. Other parameters included are the spatial offset of the AO correction, which is the wind velocity in the frozen flow regime multiplied by the effective AO time delay and propagation distance or altitude of the turbulent layer. In this model, the asymmetry is strongest when the wind is slow and nearest to the coronagraphic mask when the turbulent layer is far away, such as when the telescope is pointing low toward the horizon. A great emphasis is made about the fact that the brighter asymmetric lobe of the PSF points in the opposite direction as the wind, which is consistent analytically with the clarification that the image plane electric field distribution is actually the inverse Fourier transform of the aperture plane. Validation of this understanding is made with observations taken from the Gemini Planet Imager, as well as being reproducible in end-to-end AO simulations.
We present the data reduction pipeline, MEAD, for Arizona Lenslets for Exoplanet Spectroscopy (ALES), the first thermal infrared integral field spectrograph designed for high-contrast imaging. ALES is an upgrade of LMIRCam, the 1 - 5 μm imaging camera for the Large Binocular Telescope, capable of observing astronomical objects in the thermal infrared (3 - 5 μm) to produce simultaneous spatial and spectral data cubes. The pipeline is currently designed to perform L-band (2.8 - 4.2 μm) data cube reconstruction, relying on methods used extensively by current near-infrared integral field spectrographs. ALES data cube reconstruction on each spectra uses an optimal extraction method. The calibration unit comprises a thermal infrared source, a monochromator and an optical diffuser designed to inject specific wavelengths of light into LBTI to evenly illuminate the pupil plane and ALES lenslet array with monochromatic light. Not only does the calibration unit facilitate wavelength calibration for ALES and LBTI, but it also provides images of monochromatic point spread functions (PSFs). A linear combination of these monochromatic PSFs can be optimized to fit each spectrum in the least-square sense via x2 fitting.
Roughly 40 billion M dwarfs in our galaxy host at least one small planet in the habitable zone (HZ). The stellar ultraviolet (UV) radiation from M dwarfs is strong and highly variable, and impacts planetary atmospheric loss, composition and habitability. These effects are amplified by the extreme proximity of their HZs (0.1–0.4 AU). Knowing the UV environments of M dwarf planets will be crucial to understanding their atmospheric composition and a key parameter in discriminating between biological and abiotic sources for observed biosignatures. The Star-Planet Activity Research CubeSat (SPARCS) will be a 6U CubeSat devoted to photometric monitoring of M stars in the far-UV and near-UV, measuring the time-dependent spectral slope, intensity and evolution of low-mass star high-energy radiation.
The integral field spectrograph configuration of the LMIRCam science camera within the Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI) facilitates 2 to 5 µm spectroscopy of directly imaged gas-giant exoplanets. The mode, dubbed ALES, comprises magnification optics, a lenslet array, and direct-vision prisms, all of which are included within filter wheels in LMIRCam. Our observing approach includes manual adjustments to filter wheel positions to optimize alignment, on/off nodding to track sky-background variations, and wavelength calibration using narrow band filters in series with ALES optics. For planets with separations outside our 1”x1” field of view, we use a three-point nod pattern to visit the primary, secondary and sky. To minimize overheads we select the longest exposure times and nod periods given observing conditions, especially sky brightness and variability. Using this strategy we collected several datasets of low-mass companions to nearby stars.
The Gemini Planet Imager Exoplanet Survey (GPIES) is a multiyear direct imaging survey of 600 stars to discover and characterize young Jovian exoplanets and their environments. We have developed an automated data architecture to process and index all data related to the survey uniformly. An automated and flexible data processing framework, which we term the Data Cruncher, combines multiple data reduction pipelines (DRPs) together to process all spectroscopic, polarimetric, and calibration data taken with GPIES. With no human intervention, fully reduced and calibrated data products are available less than an hour after the data are taken to expedite follow up on potential objects of interest. The Data Cruncher can run on a supercomputer to reprocess all GPIES data in a single day as improvements are made to our DRPs. A backend MySQL database indexes all files, which are synced to the cloud, and a front-end web server allows for easy browsing of all files associated with GPIES. To help observers, quicklook displays show reduced data as they are processed in real time, and chatbots on Slack post observing information as well as reduced data products. Together, the GPIES automated data processing architecture reduces our workload, provides real-time data reduction, optimizes our observing strategy, and maintains a homogeneously reduced dataset to study planet occurrence and instrument performance.