First light of the Gemini Planet Imager

Bruce Macintosh, James R. Graham, Patrick Ingraham, Quinn Konopacky, Christian Marois, Marshall Perrin, Lisa Poyneer, Brian Bauman, Travis Barman, Adam S. Burrows, Andrew Cardwell, Jeffrey Chilcote, Robert J. De Rosa, Daren Dillon, Rene Doyon, Jennifer Dunn, Darren Erikson, Michael P. Fitzgerald, Donald Gavel, Stephen GoodsellMarkus Hartung, Pascale Hibon, Paul Kalas, James Larkin, Jerome Maire, Franck Marchis, Mark S. Marley, James McBride, Max Millar-Blanchaer, Katie Morzinski, Andrew Norton, B. R. Oppenheimer, David Palmer, Jennifer Patience, Laurent Pueyo, Fredrik Rantakyro, Naru Sadakuni, Leslie Saddlemyer, Dmitry Savransky, Andrew Serio, Remi Soummer, Anand Sivaramakrishnan, Inseok Song, Sandrine Thomas, J. Kent Wallace, Sloane Wiktorowicz, Schuyler Wolff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

502 Scopus citations


The Gemini Planet Imager 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 the Gemini Planet Imager 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-σ contrast of 106 at 0.75 arcseconds and 105 at 0.35 arcseconds. Observations of Beta Pictoris clearly detect the planet, Beta Pictoris b, in a single 60-s exposure with minimal postprocessing. Beta Pictoris b is observed at a separation of 434 ± 6 milliarcseconds (mas) and position angle 211.8 ± 0.5°. Fitting the Keplerian orbit of Beta Pic b using the new position together with previous astrometry gives a factor of 3 improvement in most parameters over previous solutions. The planet orbits at a semimajor axis of 9:0-0.4+0.8 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% probability of a transit of the planet in late 2017.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12661-12666
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number35
StatePublished - Sep 2 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


  • Debris disks
  • Extreme adaptive optics
  • High-contrast imaging


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