The gemini NICI planet-finding campaign

Michael C. Liu, Zahed Wahhaj, Beth A. Biller, Eric L. Nielsen, Mark Chun, Laird M. Close, Christ Ftaclas, Markus Hartung, Thomas L. Hayward, Fraser Clarke, I. Neill Reid, Evgenya L. Shkolnik, Matthias Tecza, Niranjan Thatte, Silvia Alencar, Pawel Artymowicz, Alan Boss, Adam Burrows, Elisabethe De Gouveia Dal Pino, Jane Gregorio-HetemShigeru Ida, Marc J. Kuchner, Douglas Lin, Douglas Toomey

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

45 Scopus citations


Our team is carrying out a multi-year observing program to directly image and characterize young extrasolar planets using the Near-Infrared Coronagraphic Imager (NICI) on the Gemini-South 8.1-meter telescope. NICI is the first instrument on a large telescope designed from the outset for high-contrast imaging, comprising a high-performance curvature adaptive optics (AO) system with a simultaneous dual-channel coronagraphic imager. Combined, with state-of-the-art AO observing methods and data processing, NICI typically achieves ≈2 magnitudes better contrast compared to previous ground-based or space-based planet-finding efforts, at separations inside of ≈2". In preparation for the Campaign, we carried out efforts to identify previously unrecognized, young stars as targets, to develop a rigorous quantitative method, for constructing our observing strategy, and to optimize the combination of angular differential imaging and spectral differential imaging. The Planet-Finding Campaign is in its second year, with first-epoch imaging of 174 stars already obtained out of a total sample of 300 stars. We describe the Campaign's goals, design, target selection, implementation, on-sky performance, and preliminary results. The NICI Planet-Finding Campaign represents the largest and most sensitive imaging survey to date for massive (≳1 MJup) planets around other stars. Upon completion, the Campaign will establish the best measurements to date on the properties of young gas-giant planets at ≳5-10 AU separations. Finally, Campaign discoveries will be well-suited to long-term orbital monitoring and detailed spectrophotometric followup with next-generation planet-finding instruments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdaptive Optics Systems II
EditionPART 1
StatePublished - 2010
EventAdaptive Optics Systems II - San Diego, CA, United States
Duration: Jun 27 2010Jul 2 2010

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
NumberPART 1
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


OtherAdaptive Optics Systems II
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego, CA

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


  • Adaptive optics
  • Brown dwarfs
  • Extrasolar planets
  • High contrast imaging
  • Near-IR instrumentation


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