We report the first high spatial resolution near-infrared imaging of the Vela pulsar in the Ks band obtained with the new adaptive optics system recently mounted on the Gemini-South telescope. For the first time, we have firmly detected the pulsar in this band with Ks~21.8 mag, and have resolved in detail an extended feature barely detected previously in the immediate vicinity of the pulsar in the JsH bands. The pulsar Ks flux is fully consistent with the extension of the flat optical spectrum of the pulsar towards the infrared and does not confirm the strong infrared flux excess in the pulsar emission suggested earlier by the low spatial resolution data. The extended feature is about two times brighter than the pulsar and is likely associated with its X-ray counter-jet. It extends ~2'' southwards of the pulsar along the X-ray counter-jet and shows knot-like structures and a red spectrum.
The paper has been submitted to ApJ and its preliminary version published in astro-ph/1306.0346
The Gemini-S/GSAOI+GEMS Ks image is available in FITS and jpg format: