I’m Kinda Sensitive.

No, not me.  I’m a ruff an tumble sort of fellow.  Except when I am sick (like now) and want some mothering.  Oh well, such is life.

The sensitive kind I am referring to is a new Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) camera that was installed on the 8-meter Gemini South telescope.  Perhaps they need to stop naming everything Gemini, it could get redundant (get it?  Gemini?  The Twins? Redundant!  Oh, I still slay me).


According to the GPI website: “GPI is an extreme adaptive-optics imaging polarimeter/integral-field spectrometer, which will provide diffraction-limited data between 0.9 and 2.4 microns. The system will provide contrast ratios of 10^7 on companions at separations of 0.2-1 arcsecond in a 1-2 hour observation.”  Which means it is a really sensitive camera.

What is even more amazing is that the GPI was built at the American Museum of Natural History, not NASA or any other space agency.

The Gemini Planet Imager’s first light image of Beta Pictoris b (Processing by Christian Marois, NRC Canada)

So what can this new camera do?  The image above (processed by Christian Marois, NRC Canada) is our first actual real image of an exoplanet!  This is the first direct method that scientists have to confirm the existence of exoplanets.  Before, exoplanets were inferred from data.

It sort of looks like IBM’s images of atoms.  Although IBM has the ability to manipulate atoms to forming cool pictures (and even movies), I don’t think that we will have that much sway over planetary objects.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +