Gateway to the Cosmos

In this panorama, the Milky Way galaxy curves over the summit of Maunakea in Hawai‘i like an arched gateway to the cosmos. The 8.1-meter Gemini North, one half of the International Gemini Observatory, operated by NSF’s NOIRLab, is visible at the center of the image, and the University of Hawaii 2.2-meter telescope is to its right. From atop the long-dormant volcano, in the dry air of the Pacific, Gemini North and its neighboring telescopes are superbly located for infrared observations.

The infrared capabilities of Gemini North — and its twin telescope Gemini South in the southern hemisphere — allow astronomers to see through the cosmic dust that blocks visible light from stars and galaxies. They are also optimal for peering into the cold corners of the Universe. Gemini North has detected the potential first traces of the Universe’s earliest stars, confirmed the presence of an ultra-faint fossil galaxy, and detected two black holes within distant merging galaxies.

This photo was taken as part of the recent NOIRLab 2022 Photo Expedition to all the NOIRLab sites. 


International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/T. Slovinský

About the Image

Release date:July 26, 2023, noon
Size:15000 x 5346 px

About the Object

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