Gemini’s PHANTOM captures exquisite first light sightings of a bright, chemically rich star
Newswise—The Gemini South the new scientific instrument of the telescope — PHANTOMthe Gemini high-resolution optical spectrograph – obtained the first light by making exquisite observations of HD 222925a remarkably bright and chemically complex star located over 1400 light-years in the direction of the southern hemisphere constellation Tucana. This star is an excellent example of the type of object that GHOST will study. Gemini South represents half of the International Gemini Observatory.
“This is an exciting stopover for astronomers around the world who rely on Gemini South to study the Universe from this exceptional vantage point in Chile,said Jennifer Lotz, director of the Gemini Observatory. “Once this next-generation instrument is commissioned, GHOST will be an essential part of astronomers’ toolkit.”
Spectrographs are among the most important scientific instruments in all of astronomy. Unlike high-resolution cameras that capture stunning detail of distant stars and galaxies, spectrographs precisely analyze the spectrum of light emitted by these objects, revealing detailed information about their chemical composition, movement and rotation, as well as on their ancient counterparts at the edge of the observable Universe.
GHOST, which has ten times the spectral resolution of GMOS, Gemini’s other major optical spectrograph, is the most sensitive high-resolution spectrograph over the entire optical wavelength range of any spectrograph currently in operation on telescopes from comparable size .
GHOST will also provide crucial follow-up observations on key targets emerging from many ongoing and future investigations, such as Vera C. Rubin Observatory‘s Legacy Survey of Space and Time, SkyMapperand Gaia. The instrument is open access, which means that any researcher with a convincing scientific case will be able to submit proposals to use it in their research. NOIRLab will provide a data reduction pipeline for astronomers using the instrument.
Australian Astronomical Optics (AAO) from Macquarie University leads the GHOST team, which includes the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Center which was responsible for building the spectrograph, and the Australian National University (ANU), a leader in instrument control system and data reduction software.
The design and construction of GHOST began in 2010 and took ten years. The instrument was delivered to Gemini South in early 2020, although COVID-19 restrictions forced installation by teams in Canada and Australia to wait until early 2022. With its successful installation and its first light observations, the commissioning team put GHOST through its to verify that its systems are working as expected. Once the commissioning process is complete, it will join Gemini South’s diverse suite of advanced optical and infrared instruments and be offered to astronomers.
“Installation and commissioning took a long time to come, but the team worked efficiently and quickly“, said Steve Margheim, scientist of the GHOST project at NSFit is NOIRLab. “It was a really special day when we saw our first instrument rainbow”.
“With the successful commissioning of GHOST, NSF commends the instrument team for providing the international astronomy community with enhanced capability to explore planets, stars and galaxies“said Martin Still Gemini Program Officer at the National Science Foundation.”We look forward to new discoveries.”
GHOST is expected to be made available to the astronomy community in the first half of 2023.
 GHOST is a scale spectrograph and consists of three main components; the Cassegrain unit mounted on the telescope, the spectrograph bench located in the pier laboratory for image and wavelength stability, and a fiber cable connecting the two.
NSF’s NOIRLab (National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory), the American center for ground-based optical-infrared astronomy, operates the international network Gemini Observatory (a facility of NSF, NRC–Canada, ANID–Chile, MCTIC–Brazil, MINCyT–Argentinaand KASI–Republic of Korea), Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO), Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO), the Community Science and Data Center (CSDC), and Vera C. Rubin Observatory (operated in collaboration with the Ministry of Energyit is SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory). It is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (WILL HAVE) under a cooperative agreement with NSF and headquartered in Tucson, Arizona. The astronomical community is honored to have the opportunity to conduct astronomical research on Iolkam Du’ag (Kitt Peak) in Arizona, Maunakea in Hawai’i, and Cerro Tololo and Cerro Pachón in Chile. We recognize and recognize the very important cultural role and respect these sites have for the Tohono O’odham Nation, the Native Hawaiian community and the local communities of Chile, respectively.