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Legacy Images

M2-9 with Adaptive Optics

Color composite adaptive optics image of the planetary nebula M2-9 using the ALTAIR adaptive optics system on Gemini North. This image reveals remarkable details in the dynamic gas outflows from a dying star. It is thought that our Sun might meet a similar fate in 4-5 billion years once its hydrogen nuclear fuel becomes scarce and instabilities expel gas into space. The concentric shells of gas are still a mystery to astronomers and these data will help to understand the complexities surrounding this beautiful object.

Chinese Dragon NGC 6559

Gemini South image of dragon-like dark nebula NGC 6559 NGC 6559 is a relatively small, nearby dust cloud in our Milky Way galaxy that measures about seven light-years across. NGC 6559 is part of a larger star-forming region in the southern constellation Sagittarius. The dark structure that resembles a Chinese dragon is caused by cool dust that absorbs background radiation from hydrogen gas that glows in red light due to ionization from nearby stars.


Gemini North image of stellar nursery RY Tau was imaged by the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph (GMOS) as part of a Canadian contest for amateur astronomers. The image reveals tremendous detail in the wispy remains of the gas cloud that formed the bright star at bottom/center. This system is approximately 140 parsecs (450 light years) away, and spans about 2/3 of a light year. The central star is a variable star that ranges between visual magnitudes 9 and 11 over an irregular period of time.

Star Birth NGC 2467

An extremely active stellar nursery glows in deep reddish tones in this Gemini view of NGC 2467 in the southern constellation of Puppis. The image displays a striking array of features that illustrate multiple phases of star birth. In the lower right, young stars are emitting hot radiation, exciting the nearby gas and causing it to glow and revealing denser gas and dust clouds. Dust lanes and dark globules mark sites of future star formation. A cluster of young stars dominates the left edge of the field of view.

Galactic Waltz NGC 1532-31

The interacting galaxy pair NGC 1532 and NGC 1531 were imaged using the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph (GMOS) at Gemini South in Chile on December 5, 2004. This view reveals spectacular details in the galactic pair embraced in a fiery waltz. The larger galaxy (NGC 1532) is a spiral, and from our point of view within the Milky Way it is seen as nearly edge-on. Intense reddish star-forming regions spatter the edges of the dusty arms silhouetted in the foreground against the galactic disk.

Hickson Compact Group 87

During commissioning in early 2003 of the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph (GMOS) on the Gemini South Telescope, images and spectra were obtained of the group of galaxies known as the Hickson Compact Group 87 (HCG 87). The Gemini image compares very favorably with space-based image of this same field and illustrates the remarkable resolution that is possible with Gemini when atmospheric conditions are optimal.

See Image Release for details 

Quasar & Deep Galaxy Field

Obtained during the commissioning and system verification phase of GMOS, the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph, this Gemini Deep Field image is centered on the z=4 quasar QSO PMN2314+0201. The final image is the result of a combination of several frames taken with g', r' and i' filters. The colors represented in this image indicate the different ages of stars within the galaxies as well as the stretching of light toward the red end of the spectrum as it travels across the expanding universe.

Trifid Nebula (M20)

Central region of the Trifid Nebula (M20 in the Messier Catalogue) taken by the Gemini North 8-meter Telescope on Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii, June 5, 2002. Located in the constellation of Sagittarius, the beautiful nebula is a much-photographed, dynamic cloud of gas and dust where stars are being born. One of the massive stars at the nebula's center was born approximately 100,000 years ago. The nebula's distance from the Solar System remains in dispute, but it is generally agreed to be somewhere between 2,200 to 9,000 light years away.