suppression of light from the central star. Fourth,
The NICI Planet-finding Campaign is designed to
NICI employs an additional observing technique
address three key science questions:
known as roll subtraction, a.k.a. angular differential What are the mass and separation distributions
imaging (ADI), to remove the time-variable PSF. In
ADI observations, the Cassegrain image rotator is
of planets in the outer regions (5 to 10 AU) of
fixed, allowing the image of the planet to rotate in
other planetary systems?
the field-of-view while keeping the diffraction pattern What is the dependence of planet frequency
of the PSF fixed and stable so it can be subtracted
away very accurately. Subsets of these methods have
on stellar host mass?
been used individually with previous AO imaging What are the spectral properties of extrasolar
surveys on other telescopes but NICI is the first
instrument to combine all these techniques into a
single instrument. In order to answer these questions, the NICI
The Gemini NICI Planet Finding Campaign
campaign is being carried out by a strong, multidisciplinary, international team, including leading instrumentalists, observers, and theorists drawn
NICI provides a powerful new capability for direct
from across the Gemini community. I (Michael Liu)
imaging searches and the characterization of exoplanets.
serve as the campaign’s PI, with Mark Chun (IfA/
To take full advantage of this new opportunity, our
Hawai‘i) and Laird Close (Arizona) as the primary
team is carrying out a major observing campaign with
co-investigators. The team also includes Adam Burrows (Princeton); Doug Toomey (Mauna Kea
Infrared); Christ Ftaclas, Zahed Wahhaj, and Beth
NICI during a daytime check in January 2009.
Biller (IfA/UH); Neill Reid (Space Telescope Science Institute);
Niranjan Thatte, Matthias Tecza, and Fraser Clarke (Oxford University); Harvey Richer (University of
Elisabete De Gouveia Dal Pino, and Sylvia Alencar (Universidad de São Paolo); Pawel Artymowicz (University of Toronto); Doug Lin (University of California-Santa Cruz), Shigeru Ida (Tokyo Institute of Technology); Alan Boss (DTM/Carnegie), Mark NICI amounting to up to 500 hours of observing time
Kuchner (NASA Goddard), Chris Tinney (Anglo-
over the next two years. This is the first such large
Australian Observatory); and Tom Hayward, and
campaign being carried out by the Gemini Observatory;
Markus Hartung (Gemini Observatory).
accordingly, the NICI program is also intended to serve as a model for even larger Gemini observing
projects carried out with future instruments. To achieve the project goals, the NICI campaign The NICI Planet-Finding Campaign assembles a large-
team will target a sample of about 300 stars in the
scale coherent science program with a unified set of
extended solar neighborhood. Young stars are a
goals, observing methods, and data analysis techniques.
high priority, since planets are expected to be more
While campaign-style science is new to Gemini, large
luminous in their youth. We also prioritize stars
observing programs have been carried out in a number
having compelling indirect evidence of planetary
of fields with other major observatories, such as the
companions. The campaign sample spans a wide
Hubble Space Telescope and the European Southern
range of spectral types (i.e., stellar mass), which
Observatory’s Very Large Telescope.
is made possible by the good sensitivity of NICI’s curvature AO system for optically faint targets.