The Gemini Planet Imager: First Light
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The Gemini Planet Imager: First Light


The Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) is a dedicated facility for directly imaging and spectroscopically characterizing extrasolar planets. It combines a very high-order adaptive optics system, a diffraction-suppressing coronagraph, and an integral field spectrograph with low spectral resolution but high spatial resolution. Every aspect of GPI has been tuned for maximum sensitivity to faint planets near bright stars. During first light observations, we achieved an estimated H band Strehl ratio of 0.89 and a 5-sigma contrast of $10^6$ at 0.75 arcseconds and $10^5$ at 0.35 arcseconds. Observations of Beta Pictoris clearly detect the planet, Beta Pictoris b, in a single 60-second exposure with minimal post-processing. Beta Pictoris b is observed at a separation of $434 \pm 6$ milli-arcseconds and position angle $211.8 \pm 0.5$ deg. Fitting the Keplerian orbit of Beta Pic b using the new position together with previous astrometry gives a factor of three improvement in most parameters over previous solutions. The planet orbits at a semi-major axis of $9.0^{+0.8}_{-0.4}$ AU near the 3:2 resonance with the previously-known 6 AU asteroidal belt and is aligned with the inner warped disk. The observations give a 4% posterior probability of a transit of the planet in late 2017.

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