Tagged: Adaptive Optics Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • richardmitnick 1:27 pm on May 15, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Adaptive Optics, , , , , IFA at Manua Kea U Hawaii Manoa,   

    From U Hawaii IFA at Manua Kea: “Robo-AO” 

    U Hawaii

    From University of Hawaii

    U Hawaii 2.2 meter telescope, Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA
    U Hawaii 2.2 meter telescope, Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA

    1

    From U Hawaii IFA at Manua Kea

    Archived News: 2015-2016

    June 26th, 2016: The Robo-AO team is at the SPIE Astronomical Telescopes and Instrumentation in Edinburgh, Scottland with 4 talks and 2 posters that used Robo-AO data or technology:

    3

    C. Baranec The Rapid Transient Surveyor
    D. Atkinson Next-generation performance of SAPHIRA HgCdTe APDs
    C. Ziegler SRAO: optical design and the dual-knife-edge WFS
    N. Law SRAO: the southern robotic speckle + adaptive optics system
    C. Ziegler The Robo-AO KOI survey: laser adaptive optics imaging of every Kepler exoplanet candidate
    M. Salama Robo-AO Kitt Peak: status of the system and optimizing the sensitivity of a sub-electron readnoise IR camera to detect low-mass companions

    4
    March 9th, 2016 Robo-AO was found to be the second most scientifically productive laser adaptive optics system in 2015 (behind Keck). With the redeployment to Kitt Peak last year, and four papers currently under review, we’re optimistic this productivity will continue well into the future.

    Histogram of refereed science publications from the world’s laser adaptive optics systems.

    Figure adopted from P. Wizinowich (Keck) and used with permission.
    5

    November 12th, 2015 The Robo-AO system has been installed at the 2.1-m telescope at Kitt Peak and we are in the middle of comissioning. For more frequent updates, please see our Robo-AO Facebook page.

    6
    The Robo-AO ultraviolet laser at the Kitt Peak 2.1-m telescope.

    7
    Robo-AO mounted on the Palomar Observatory 1.5m telescope. The adaptive optics and camera systems are in the box mounted on the back end of the telescope. The large box on top of the telescope is the support electronics rack, and the UV laser guide star system is mounted on the bottom of the telescope. Image credit: C. Baranec

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    stem

    Stem Education Coalition

    System Overview

    The University of Hawai‘i System includes 10 campuses and dozens of educational, training and research centers across the Hawaiian Islands. As the public system of higher education in Hawai‘i, UH offers opportunities as unique and diverse as our Island home.

    The 10 UH campuses and educational centers on six Hawaiian Islands provide unique opportunities for both learning and recreation.

    UH is the State’s leading engine for economic growth and diversification, stimulating the local economy with jobs, research and skilled workers.

    Advertisements
     
  • richardmitnick 5:58 pm on December 18, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Adaptive Optics, , , , , , ESO Signs Contract for ELT Laser Sources   

    From ESO: “ESO Signs Contract for ELT Laser Sources” 

    ESO 50 Large

    European Southern Observatory

    18 December 2017
    Frank Lison
    TOPTICA Projects GmbH
    Email: Frank.Lison@toptica-projects.com

    Richard Hook
    ESO Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
    Cell: +49 151 1537 3591
    Email: rhook@eso.org

    1

    ESO has signed a new agreement with TOPTICA, the German photonics company, for the production of lasers to be used in ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) adaptive optics system. TOPTICA [1], in partnership with the Canadian company MPB Communications Inc. (MPBC) [2], will build at least four laser sources for the ELT [3], helping the telescope to achieve unprecedented spatial resolution for an optical/infrared ground-based telescope. The ELT is scheduled to see first light in 2024.

    The laser system for the adaptive optics system on the ELT will be based on the Four Laser Guide Star Facility (4LGSF) on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT). The Adaptive Optics Facility, which uses the 4LGSF, has already shown spectacular improvement in image sharpness on the VLT (eso1724). The TOPTICA/MPBC Guidestar Alliance was the main contractor for the laser system on the VLT (eso1613).

    Adaptive optics compensate for the blurring effect of the Earth’s atmosphere, enabling astronomers to obtain much sharper images. Lasers are used to create multiple artificial guide stars high in the Earth’s atmosphere. These points of light are used as reference light sources to allow the adaptive optics system to compensate for turbulence in the Earth’s atmosphere. Unlike natural guide stars, laser guide stars can be positioned anywhere to allow the full power of adaptive optics to be used over almost the entire sky.

    Anticipated observations enabled by the ELT’s powerful built-in adaptive optics system include everything from studying black holes to investigating some of the youngest galaxies in the distant Universe.

    Notes

    [1] TOPTICA is responsible for the laser system engineering and contributes its diode and frequency-conversion technology. The work will be executed by TOPTICA Projects GmbH, which focuses on specialised laser systems such as laser guide stars.

    [2] The construction of the high-powered Raman fibre amplifiers and fibre laser pump modules will be performed by MPB Communications Inc. of Montreal, Canada. MPBC has a history of providing high power Raman fibre amplifiers for submarine communications and scientific work.

    [3] The ELT is designed to potentially have up to eight laser guide star systems in future.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.
    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition
    Visit ESO in Social Media-

    Facebook

    Twitter

    YouTube

    ESO Bloc Icon

    ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world’s largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre European Extremely Large Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.

    ESO LaSilla
    ESO/Cerro LaSilla 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres.

    ESO VLT
    VLT at Cerro Paranal, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level.

    ESO Vista Telescope
    ESO/Vista Telescope at Cerro Paranal, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level.

    ESO NTT
    ESO/NTT at Cerro LaSilla 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres.

    ESO VLT Survey telescope
    VLT Survey Telescope at Cerro Paranal with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level.

    ALMA Array
    ALMA on the Chajnantor plateau at 5,000 metres.

    ESO E-ELT
    ESO/E-ELT to be built at Cerro Armazones at 3,060 m.

    ESO APEX
    APEX Atacama Pathfinder 5,100 meters above sea level, at the Llano de Chajnantor Observatory in the Atacama desert.

    Leiden MASCARA instrument, La Silla, located in the southern Atacama Desert 600 kilometres (370 mi) north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2,400 metres (7,900 ft)

    Leiden MASCARA cabinet at ESO Cerro la Silla located in the southern Atacama Desert 600 kilometres (370 mi) north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2,400 metres (7,900 ft)

    ESO Next Generation Transit Survey at Cerro Paranel, 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

    SPECULOOS four 1m-diameter robotic telescopes 2016 in the ESO Paranal Observatory, 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

    ESO TAROT telescope at Paranal, 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

     
  • richardmitnick 10:07 pm on December 15, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A valuable STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) opportunity for education and workforce development, Adaptive Optics, AO is a technique used to remove the distortions caused by turbulence in the Earth’s atmosphere, , , , , High-impact research on the hunt for habitable exoplanets, , The Keck telescopes were the first large telescopes to be equipped with adaptive optics and subsequently laser guide stars, W. M. Keck Observatory Awarded NSF Grant to Boost Performance of Adaptive Optics System   

    From Keck: “W. M. Keck Observatory Awarded NSF Grant to Boost Performance of Adaptive Optics System” 

    Keck Observatory

    Keck Observatory.
    Keck, with Subaru and IRTF (NASA Infrared Telescope Facility). Vadim Kurland

    Keck Observatory

    December 15, 2017
    No writer credit.

    1
    Adaptive optics (AO) measures and then corrects the atmospheric turbulence using a deformable mirror that changes shape 1,000 times per second. Initially, AO relied on the light of a star that was both bright and close to the target celestial object. But there are only enough bright stars to allow AO correction in about one percent of the sky. In response, astronomers developed Laser Guide Star Adaptive Optics using a special-purpose laser to excite sodium atoms that sit in an atmospheric layer 60 miles above Earth. Exciting the atoms in the sodium layers creates an artificial “star” for measuring atmospheric distortions which allows the AO to produce sharp images of celestial objects positioned nearly anywhere in the sky. IMAGE CREDIT: ANDREW RICHARD HARA, http://www.andrewhara.com

    One of the most scientifically productive adaptive optics (AO) systems on Earth is getting a major upgrade, one that will further advance high-impact research on the hunt for habitable exoplanets, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, and the nature of Dark Matter and Dark Energy.

    The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded funding to the W. M. Keck Observatory on Maunakea, Hawaii for a significant enhancement of the performance of the AO system on the Keck II telescope.

    “The Keck telescopes were the first large telescopes to be equipped with adaptive optics and subsequently laser guide stars. All major astronomical telescopes now have laser guide star AO systems. Despite this competition, Keck Observatory’s AO systems have remained the most scientifically productive in the world. This upgrade will help maintain our science community’s competitive advantage,” said Principal Investigator Peter Wizinowich, chief of technical development at Keck Observatory.

    AO is a technique used to remove the distortions caused by turbulence in the Earth’s atmosphere. This results in sharper, more detailed astronomical images. This upgrade will further improve the clarity of the images formed by the telescope.

    The project will deliver a faster, more flexible real-time controller (RTC), as well as a better, lower noise camera for wavefront sensing. This will reduce the camera readout and computation time between the time that an image is captured and a correction for atmospheric blurring is made.

    4

    “Any delay means the correction is applied for atmospheric turbulence that has already started to change. Even if the correction happens in just a few milliseconds, we want to reduce the delay to a minimum. The new RTC computer and camera uses advanced technology to do just that,” said Sylvain Cetre, a software engineer at Keck Observatory who plays a lead role in developing the new RTC.

    Recognizing this as a valuable STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) opportunity for education and workforce development, Keck Observatory will include a postdoc as well as a Hawaii college student from the summer Akamai Internship Program to work on the development of the project.

    “Part of Keck Observatory’s mission is to train and prepare future generations so the work continues long after we are gone,” said Jason Chin, a senior engineer at Keck Observatory and project manager for the new RTC. “Many of Hawaii’s finest students, scientists, and engineers end up working on the mainland away from their families. We want to show them there is a vibrant tech industry in Hawaii. One of the ways we do that is by participating in the Akamai Internship Program, which has one of the highest retention rates for Hawaii college students staying in the STEM field. We are proud that many are working in our local tech industry.”

    Co-Principal Investigators Andrea Ghez, Director of the UCLA Galactic Center Group, Jessica Lu, Assistant Astronomy Professor at UC Berkeley, Dimitri Mawet, Associate Astronomy Professor at Caltech, and Tommaso Treu, Physics and Astronomy Professor at UCLA, will also involve graduate and postdoc students. Their teams will use the new capabilities of Keck Observatory’s AO system to pursue science projects in three fields of study:

    1.Characterizing planets around low mass stars via direct imaging and spectroscopy

    2.Testing Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity and understanding supermassive black hole interactions at the Galactic Center

    3.Constraining Dark Matter, the Hubble constant, and Dark Energy via strong gravitational lensing

    “These instrumentation improvements will not only enhance the scientific return of our existing AO system, but it will also provide an excellent platform for future improvements,” said Wizinowich. “We were very pleased to learn that our proposal was successful.”

    The upgrade is expected to be completed by the end of 2020.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Mission
    To advance the frontiers of astronomy and share our discoveries with the world.

    The W. M. Keck Observatory operates the largest, most scientifically productive telescopes on Earth. The two, 10-meter optical/infrared telescopes on the summit of Mauna Kea on the Island of Hawaii feature a suite of advanced instruments including imagers, multi-object spectrographs, high-resolution spectrographs, integral-field spectrometer and world-leading laser guide star adaptive optics systems. Keck Observatory is a private 501(c) 3 non-profit organization and a scientific partnership of the California Institute of Technology, the University of California and NASA.

    Today Keck Observatory is supported by both public funding sources and private philanthropy. As a 501(c)3, the organization is managed by the California Association for Research in Astronomy (CARA), whose Board of Directors includes representatives from the California Institute of Technology and the University of California, with liaisons to the board from NASA and the Keck Foundation.


    Keck UCal

     
  • richardmitnick 7:22 am on May 27, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Adaptive Optics, , Fifth force, , , ,   

    From KECK: “New Method of Searching for Fifth Force” 

    Keck Observatory

    Keck Observatory.
    Keck, with Subaru and IRTF (NASA Infrared Telescope Facility). Vadim Kurland

    Keck Observatory

    1
    The orbits of two stars, S0-2 and S0-38 located near the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole will be used to test Einstein’s theory of General Relativity and potentially generate new gravitational models. IMAGE CREDIT: S. SAKAI/A.GHEZ/W. M. KECK OBSERVATORY/ UCLA GALACTIC CENTER GROUP

    W. M. Keck Observatory Data Leads To First Of Its Kind Test of Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity.

    May 26, 2017
    No writer credit found.

    A UCLA-led team has discovered a new way of probing the hypothetical fifth force of nature using two decades of observations at W. M. Keck Observatory, the world’s most scientifically productive ground-based telescope.

    There are four known forces in the universe: electromagnetic force, strong nuclear force, weak nuclear force, and gravitational force. Physicists know how to make the first three work together, but gravity is the odd one out. For decades, there have been theories that a fifth force ties gravity to the others, but no one has been able to prove it thus far.

    “This is really exciting. It’s taken us 20 years to get here, but now our work on studying stars at the center of our galaxy is opening up a new method of looking at how gravity works,” said Andrea Ghez, Director of the UCLA Galactic Center Group and co-author of the study.

    The research is published in the current issue of Physical Review Letters.

    Ghez and her co-workers analyzed extremely sharp images of the center of our galaxy taken with Keck Observatory’s adaptive optics (AO). Ghez used this cutting-edge system to track the orbits of stars near the supermassive black hole located at the center of the Milky Way.

    Sag A* NASA Chandra X-Ray Observatory 23 July 2014, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way

    Their stellar path, driven by gravity created from the supermassive black hole, could give clues to the fifth force.

    “By watching the stars move over 20 years using very precise measurements taken from Keck Observatory data, you can see and put constraints on how gravity works. If gravitation is driven by something other than Einstein’s theory of General Relativity, you’ll see small variations in the orbital paths of the stars,” said Ghez.

    2
    Pictured above: UCLA Professor of Astrophysics and Galactic Center Group Director Andrea Ghez, a Keck Observatory astronomer and recipient of the 2015 Bakerian Medal. IMAGE CREDIT: KYLE ALEXANDER

    This is the first time the fifth force theory has been tested in a strong gravitational field such as the one created by the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. Historically, measurements of our solar system’s gravity created by our sun have been used to try and detect the fifth force, but that has proven difficult because its gravitational field is relatively weak.

    “It’s exciting that we can do this because we can ask a very fundamental question – how does gravity work?” said Ghez. “Einstein’s theory describes it beautifully well, but there’s lots of evidence showing the theory has holes. The mere existence of supermassive black holes tells us that our current theories of how the universe works are inadequate to explain what a black hole is.”

    Ghez and her team, including lead author Aurelien Hees and co-author Tuan Do, both of UCLA, are looking forward to summer of 2018. That is when the star S0-2 will be at its closest distance to our galaxy’s supermassive black hole. This will allow the team to witness the star being pulled at maximum gravitational strength – a point where any deviations to Einstein’s theory is expected to be the greatest.

    About Adaptive Optics

    W. M. Keck Observatory is a distinguished leader in the field of adaptive optics (AO), a breakthrough technology that removes the distortions caused by the turbulence in the Earth’s atmosphere.

    Keck Observatory pioneered the astronomical use of both natural guide star (NGS) and laser guide star adaptive optics (LGS AO) and our current systems now deliver images three to four times sharper than the Hubble Space Telescope. AO has imaged the four massive planets orbiting the star HR8799, measured the mass of the giant black hole at the center of our Milky Way Galaxy, discovered new supernovae in distant galaxies, and identified the specific stars that were their progenitors.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Mission
    To advance the frontiers of astronomy and share our discoveries with the world.

    The W. M. Keck Observatory operates the largest, most scientifically productive telescopes on Earth. The two, 10-meter optical/infrared telescopes on the summit of Mauna Kea on the Island of Hawaii feature a suite of advanced instruments including imagers, multi-object spectrographs, high-resolution spectrographs, integral-field spectrometer and world-leading laser guide star adaptive optics systems. Keck Observatory is a private 501(c) 3 non-profit organization and a scientific partnership of the California Institute of Technology, the University of California and NASA.

    Today Keck Observatory is supported by both public funding sources and private philanthropy. As a 501(c)3, the organization is managed by the California Association for Research in Astronomy (CARA), whose Board of Directors includes representatives from the California Institute of Technology and the University of California, with liaisons to the board from NASA and the Keck Foundation.
    Keck UCal

     
  • richardmitnick 8:58 am on May 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Adaptive Optics, , , , , ,   

    From Nautilus: “Opening a New Window into the Universe” 

    Nautilus

    Nautilus

    April 2017
    Andrea Ghez, UCLA, UCO

    7
    Andrea Ghez. PBS NOVA

    The UCO Lick C. Donald Shane telescope is a 120-inch (3.0-meter) reflecting telescope located at the Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California

    Keck Observatory, Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA

    New technology could bring new insights into the nature of black holes, dark matter, and extrasolar planets.

    Earthbound telescopes see stars and other astronomical objects through a haze. The light waves they gather have traveled unimpeded through space for billions of years, only to be distorted in the last millisecond by the Earth’s turbulent atmosphere. That distortion is now even more important, because scientists are preparing to build the three largest telescopes on Earth, each with light-gathering surfaces of 20 to 40 meters across.

    The new giant telescopes:

    ESO/E-ELT,to be on top of Cerro Armazones in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile


    TMT-Thirty Meter Telescope, proposed for Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA


    Giant Magellan Telescope, to be at Las Campanas Observatory, to be built some 115 km (71 mi) north-northeast of La Serena, Chile

    In principle, the larger the telescope, the higher the resolution of astronomical images. In practice, the distorting veil of the atmosphere has always limited what can be achieved. Now, a rapidly evolving technology known as adaptive optics can strip away the veil and enable astronomers to take full advantage of current and future large telescopes. Indeed, adaptive optics is already making possible important discoveries and observations, including: the discovery of the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy, proving that such exotic objects exist; the first images and spectra of planetary systems around other stars; and high-resolution observations of galaxies forming in the early universe.

    But adaptive optics has still not delivered its full scientific potential.

    ESO 4LGSF Adaptive Optics Facility (AOF)

    Existing technology can only partially correct the atmospheric blurring and cannot provide any correction for large portions of the sky or for the majority of the objects astronomers want to study.

    The project we propose here to fully exploit the potential of adaptive optics by taking the technology to the next level would boost research on a number of critical astrophysical questions, including:

    What are supermassive black holes and how do they work? Adaptive Optics has opened a new approach to studying supermassive black holes—through stellar orbits—but only the brightest stars, the tip of the iceberg, have been measured. With next generation adaptive optics we will be able to take the next leap forward in our studies of these poorly understood objects that are believed to play a central role in our universe. The space near the massive black hole at the center of our galaxy, for example, is a place where gravitational forces reach extreme levels. Does Einstein’s general theory of relativity still apply, or do exotic new physical phenomena emerge? How do these massive black holes shape their host galaxies? Early adaptive optics observations at the galactic center have revealed a completely unexpected environment, challenging our notions on the relationship between black holes and galaxies, which are a fundamental ingredient to cosmological models. One way to answer both of these questions is to find and measure the orbits of faint stars that are closer to the black hole than any known so far—which advanced adaptive optics would make possible.
    The first direct images of an extrasolar planet—obtained with adaptive optics—has raised fundamental questions about star and planet formation. How exactly do new stars form and then spawn planets from the gaseous disks around them? New, higher resolution images of this process—with undistorted data from larger telescopes—can help answer this question, and may also reveal how our solar system was formed. In addition, although only a handful of new-born planets has been found to date, advanced adaptive optics will enable astronomers to find many more and help determine their composition and life-bearing potential.
    Dark matter and dark energy are still completely mysterious, even though they constitute most of the universe.


    Dark Energy Camera [DECam], built at FNAL


    NOAO/CTIO Victor M Blanco 4m Telescope which houses the DECam at Cerro Tololo, Chile, housing DECam

    But detailed observations using adaptive optics of how light from distant galaxies is refracted around a closer galaxy to form multiple images—so-called gravitational lensing—can help scientists understand how dark matter and dark energy change space itself.

    In addition, it is clear that telescopes endowed with advanced adaptive optics technology will inspire a whole generation of astronomers to design and carry out a multitude of innovative research projects that were previously not possible.

    4
    The laser system used to make artificial guide stars that sense the blurring effects of the Earth’s atmosphere being used on both Keck I and Keck II during adaptive optics observations of the center of our Galaxy. Next Generation Adaptive Optics would have multiple laser beams for each telescope. Ethan Tweedie

    Sag A* NASA Chandra X-Ray Observatory 23 July 2014, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way

    The technology of adaptive optics is quite simple, in principle. First, astronomers measure the instantaneous turbulence in the atmosphere by looking at the light from a bright, known object—a “guide star”—or by using a laser tuned to make sodium atoms in a thin layer of the upper atmosphere fluoresce and glow as an artificial guide star.

    6
    ESO VLT Adaptive Optics new Guide Star laser light

    The turbulence measurements are used to compute (also instantaneously) the distortions that turbulence creates in the incoming light waves. Those distortions are then counteracted by rapidly morphing the surface of a deformable mirror in the telescope. Measurements and corrections are done hundreds of times per second—which is only possible with powerful computing capability, sophisticated opto-mechanical linkages, and a real-time control system. We know how to build these tools.

    Of course, telescopes that operate above the atmosphere, such as the Hubble Space Telescope, don’t need adaptive optics.

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    But both the Hubble and the coming next generation of space telescopes are small compared to the enormous earth-based telescopes now being planned.


    LSST Camera, built at SLAC



    LSST telescope, currently under construction at Cerro Pachón Chile, a 2,682-meter-high mountain in Coquimbo Region, in northern Chile, alongside the existing Gemini South and Southern Astrophysical Research Telescopes.

    And for the kinds of research that require very high resolution, such as the topics mentioned above and many others, there is really no substitute for the light-gathering power of telescopes too huge to be put into space.

    The next generation of adaptive optics could effectively take even the largest earth-bound telescopes “above the atmosphere” and make them truly amazing new windows on the universe. We know how to create this capability—the technology is in hand and the teams are assembled. It is time to put advanced adaptive optics to work.

    Creating Next Generation Adaptive Optics

    Adaptive optics (AO) imaging technology is used to improve the performance of optical systems by correcting distortions on light waves that have traveled through a turbulent medium. The technology has revolutionized fields from ophthalmology and vision science to laser communications. In astronomy, AO uses sophisticated, deformable mirrors controlled by fast computers to correct, in real-time, the distortion caused by the turbulence of the Earth’s atmosphere. Telescopes equipped with AO are already producing sharper, clearer views of distant astronomical objects than had ever before been possible, even from space. But current AO systems only partially correct for the effects of atmospheric blurring, and only when telescopes are pointed in certain directions. The aim of Next Generation Adaptive Optics is to overcome these limitations and provide precise correction for atmospheric blurring anywhere in the sky.

    One current limitation is the laser guide star that energizes sodium atoms in the upper atmosphere and causes them to glow as an artificial star used to measure the atmospheric distortions. This guide “star” is relatively close, only about 90 kilometers above the Earth’s surface, so the technique only probes a conical volume of the atmosphere above the telescope, and not the full cylinder of air through which genuine star light must pass to reach the telescope. Consequently, much of the distorting atmospheric structure is not measured. The next generation AO we propose will employ seven laser guide stars, providing full coverage of the entire cylindrical path travelled by light from the astronomical object being studied.

    6
    The next generation of adaptive optics will have several laser-created artificial guide stars, better optics, higher performance computers, and more advanced science instruments. Such a system will deliver the highest-definition images and spectra over nearly the entire sky and will enable unique new means of measuring the properties of stars, planets, galaxies, and black holes.
    J.Lu (U of Hawaii) & T. Do (UCLA)

    This technique can map the 3-D structure of the atmosphere, similar to how MRI medical imaging maps the human body. Simulations demonstrate that the resulting corrections will be excellent and stable, yielding revolutionary improvements in imaging. For example, the light from a star will be concentrated into a tiny area of the focal plane camera, and be far less spread out than it is with current systems, giving sharp, crisp images that show the finest detail possible.

    This will be particularly important for existing large telescopes such as the W. M. Keck Observatory (WMKO) [above]—currently the world’s leading AO platform in astronomy. Both our team—the UCLA Galactic Center Group (GCG)—and the WMKO staff have been deeply involved in the development of next generation AO systems.

    The quantum leap in the quality of both imaging and spectroscopy that next generation AO can bring to the Keck telescopes will likely pave the way for advanced AO systems on telescopes around the globe. For the next generation of extremely large telescopes, however, these AO advances will be critical. This is because the cylindrical volume of atmosphere through which light must pass to reach the mirrors in such large telescopes is so broad that present AO techniques will not be able to provide satisfactory corrections. For that reason, next generation AO techniques are critical to the future of infrared astronomy, and eventually of optical astronomy as well.

    The total proposed budget is $80 million over five years. The three major components necessary to take the leap in science capability include the laser guide star system, the adaptive optics system, and a powerful new science instrument, consisting of an infrared imager and an infrared spectrograph, that provides the observing capability to take advantage of the new adaptive optics system. This investment in adaptive optics will also help develop a strong workforce for other critical science and technology industries, as many students are actively recruited into industry positions in laser communications, bio-medical optics, big-data analytics for finance and business, image sensing and optics for government and defense applications, and the space industry. This investment will also help keep the U.S. in the scientific and technological lead. Well-funded European groups have recognized the power of AO and are developing competitive systems, though the next generation AO project described here will set an altogether new standard.

    Federal funding agencies find the science case for this work compelling, but they have made clear that it is beyond present budgetary means. Therefore, this is an extraordinary opportunity for private philanthropy—for visionaries outside the government to help bring this ambitious breakthrough project to reality and open a new window into the universe.

    Andrea Ghez is the Lauren B. Leichtman & Arthur E. Levine Chair in Astrophysics Director, UCLA Galactic Center Group.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Welcome to Nautilus. We are delighted you joined us. We are here to tell you about science and its endless connections to our lives. Each month we choose a single topic. And each Thursday we publish a new chapter on that topic online. Each issue combines the sciences, culture and philosophy into a single story told by the world’s leading thinkers and writers. We follow the story wherever it leads us. Read our essays, investigative reports, and blogs. Fiction, too. Take in our games, videos, and graphic stories. Stop in for a minute, or an hour. Nautilus lets science spill over its usual borders. We are science, connected.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:31 am on April 27, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Adaptive Optics, , , , Four Lasers Over Paranal   

    From ESO: “Four Lasers Over Paranal” 

    ESO 50 Large

    European Southern Observatory

    27 April 2016
    Domenico Bonaccini Calia
    ESO
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6567
    Cell: +49 (0) 174 5246 013
    Email: Domenico.Bonaccini@eso.org

    Wolfgang Hackenberg
    ESO
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6782
    Email: whackenb@eso.org

    Richard Hook
    ESO Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
    Cell: +49 151 1537 3591
    Email: rhook@eso.org

    1

    On 26 April 2016 ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile hosted an event to mark the first light for the four powerful lasers that form a crucial part of the adaptive optics systems on ESO’s Very Large Telescope. Attendees were treated to a spectacular display of cutting-edge laser technology against the majestic skies of Paranal. These are the most powerful laser guide stars ever used for astronomy and the event marks the first use of multiple laser guide stars at ESO.

    2
    Schematic view of the Four Laser Guide Star Facility on the ESO VLT

    3
    The most powerful laser guide star system in the world sees first light at the Paranal Observatory

    ESO staff were present for the event, along with senior representatives of the companies that have manufactured the different components of the new system.

    The Four Laser Guide Star Facility (4LGSF) shines four 22-watt laser beams into the sky to create artificial guide stars by making sodium atoms in the upper atmosphere glow so that they look just like real stars [1]. The artificial stars allow the adaptive optics systems to compensate for the blurring caused by the Earth’s atmosphere and so that the telescope can create sharp images. Using more than one laser allows the turbulence in the atmosphere to be mapped in far greater detail to significantly improve the image quality over a larger field of view.

    The Four Laser Guide Star Facility is an example of how ESO enables European industry to lead complex research and development projects. The fibre laser used by the 4LGSF is also one of the most successful transfers of ESO technology to industry.

    TOPTICA, the German main contractor, was responsible for the laser system and provided the oscillator, the frequency doubler, and the system control software. Wilhelm Kaenders, president of TOPTICA, said: “TOPTICA has enjoyed the collaboration with ESO tremendously. It is not only the personal thrill of being engaged with astronomy, an old passion, again, and working with very clever ESO technologists; it is also the inspiration that we have received for our own commercial product development.” [2]

    MPBC of Canada provided the fibre laser pumps and Raman amplifiers, which are based on an ESO licensed patent. Jane Bachynski, President of MPB Communications Inc. said: “MPBC is proud to have worked with ESO in the development of Raman fibre amplifiers to much higher powers, allowing MPBC to bring this technology to the stars. This event marks the culmination of many years of hard work on behalf of all involved.” [3]

    TNO in the Netherlands manufactured the optical tube assemblies, which expand the laser beams and direct them into the sky. Paul de Krom, CEO of TNO, said: “TNO valued the cooperative working environment during the development of the optical tube assemblies and looks forward to the opportunity to work with ESO and the other partners in the 4LGSF project in the future.” [4]

    The 4LGSF is part of the Adaptive Optics Facility on Unit Telescope 4 of the VLT, designed specifically to provide the adaptive optics systems GALACSI/MUSE and GRAAL/HAWK-I with four sodium laser guide stars. With this new facility, Paranal Observatory continues to have the most advanced and the largest number of adaptive optics systems in operation today.

    The 4LGSF lasers were developed by ESO with industry and have already been procured, among others, by the Keck Observatory (which contributed to the industrial laser development cost along with the European Commission) and the Subaru Telescope. In the future these industrial lasers will also feature on the telescopes at the Gemini Observatory and will be the preferred choice for several other observatories and extremely large telescope projects.

    The new techniques developed for the Four Laser Guide Star Facility pave the way for the adaptive optics system of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), the world’s biggest eye on the sky.
    Notes

    [1] The 4LGSF is the second generation laser guide star facility, built by ESO for the Adaptive Optics Facility on the UT4 VLT telescope. The two critical long-lead items for the 4LGSF, the laser system and the optical tube assemblies for the laser launch telescope systems have been procured from industry. The fibre Raman laser technology, on which the 4LGSF laser system is based, has been developed at ESO, patented and licensed to industry.

    [2] This project has allowed TOPTICA to extend its products into a new wavelength and output power regime. It now produces the SodiumStar 20/2, which is recognised as a quasi-standard for existing and planned telescopes around the world. All next generation extremely large telescope projects, for example, use the SodiumStar laser as their baseline. During the seven years of collaboration with ESO the company has grown from 80 people to more than 200 today.

    [3] MPBC’s collaboration with ESO has also generated an additional benefit, in the form of an offshoot product line of single frequency amplification products at virtually any wavelength, supporting novel applications for the scientific and commercial research community.

    [4] The developments by TNO also involved contributions from many suppliers from the Netherlands (Vernooy, Vacutech, Rovasta, Schott Benelux, Maxon Motor Benelux, IPS technology, Sensordata and WestEnd) and other international companies (RMI, Qioptiq, Laser Components, Carl Zeiss, GLP, Faes, Farnell, Eriks and Pfeiffer). The knowledge and technologies advanced by working with ESO feed into TNO’s Dutch and European partners, in fields including astronomy, communications, semiconductor manufacturing, medical devices, space science and Earth observation.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.
    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition
    Visit ESO in Social Media-

    Facebook

    Twitter

    YouTube

    ESO Bloc Icon

    ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world’s largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre European Extremely Large Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.

    ESO LaSilla
    LaSilla

    ESO VLT
    VLT

    ESO Vista Telescope
    VISTA

    ESO NTT
    NTT

    ESO VLT Survey telescope
    VLT Survey Telescope

    ALMA Array
    ALMA

    ESO E-ELT
    E-ELT

    ESO APEX
    Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) Telescope

     
  • richardmitnick 3:01 pm on December 8, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Adaptive Optics, , ,   

    From Keck: “$4 Million Laser Marks Ground Zero for Adaptive Optics Science” 

    Keck Observatory

    Keck Observatory
    Keck, with Subaru and IRTF (NASA Infrared Telescope Facility). Vadim Kurland

    Keck Observatory

    December 8, 2015
    MEDIA
    Steve Jefferson
    Communication Officer
    W. M. Keck Observatory
    sjefferson@keck.hawaii.edu

    1
    Image from the launching point of the telescope looking up into the night sky. The central hole in the beam is due to the secondary mirror obscuration on the laser beam launch telescope and is used to align the laser beam. Credit: W. M. Keck Observatory

    2
    The top spot is the artificially created laser guide star in the mesosphere with sodium atoms excited by the laser. The star pattern and surrounding lopes, seen by the acquisition camera, show the structures of the telescope and the equipment in the light path. The bottom spot is a reflection of the laser star on the camera optics. Credit: W. M. Keck Observatory

    3
    A point spread image shows the symmetry of the artificially created guide star in the mesosphere.

    Hawaii’s W. M. Keck Observatory has successfully deployed a $4 million laser system that provides a marked increase in the resolution and clarity of what are already the most scientifically productive telescopes on Earth. The new laser was projected on the sky for the first time on the evening of December 1, 2015 and will allow scientists from around the world to observe the heavens above Maunakea in unprecedented detail.

    “The Next Generation Laser System is the third generation of lasers at Keck Observatory, which has been pioneering Laser Guide Star Adaptive Optics on big telescopes since 2001,” said Jason Chin, the project manager for the new laser at Keck Observatory.

    The first Laser Guide Star Adaptive Optics system on a large telescope was commissioned on the Keck II telescope in 2004 and, among many other firsts, helped reveal the black hole at the center of the Milky Way – one the most significant astronomical discoveries. The second laser system was installed in 2011 on the Keck I telescope, propelling Keck Observatory’s lead as the premiere Adaptive Optics research facility in the world. To date more than 240 science results from these laser systems have been published in astronomical journals.

    Keck Observatory’s Laser Guide Star systems create an artificial star in the earth’s mesosphere, at an altitude of roughly 60 miles, by energizing a naturally occurring layer of sodium atoms, causing them to fluoresce. The adaptive optics system uses this artificial laser guide star to measure the aberrations introduced by turbulence in the earth’s atmosphere. A six-inch diameter deformable mirror with 349 actuators is then used to correct for these aberrations at a rate of 1,000 times per second, effectively taking the twinkle out of the stars and providing near-perfect detail for planets, stars and galaxies. Combined with the 10-meter diameter primary mirror, Keck Observatory can offer images with five times the resolution of even the Hubble Space Telescope.

    The new laser is the result of a collaboration between Keck Observatory and the European Southern Observatory to develop a more efficient and powerful facility class, commercial laser for astronomy. The new laser, fabricated by TOPTICA in Germany and MPBC in Canada meets both goals handily: the power consumption on the new system is down to 1.2 kW from the previous 80 kW used by the former dye laser system while performance has increased by a factor of ten. Further, the new laser can transition from off to an operational state in five minutes – a dramatic improvement over the five to six hours for the dye laser, which was decommissioned in October to make room for the new laser.

    Perhaps most significantly, this is first of the new generation of lasers that all future telescopes are planning on and are looking to Hawaii’s findings to build their systems.

    Funding for the project came from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the W. M. Keck Foundation and Friends of Keck Observatory. Initial seed funding was provided by the National Science Foundation.

    More than one-third of the budget was spent in Hawaii designing and installing the systems and related infrastructure to support and operate the new laser. The remaining budget was spent on the laser itself – more than $2.5 million. The project also provided infrastructure for adding two additional lasers to support laser tomography in order to determine the distribution of atmospheric turbulence versus altitude. Once funded, the additional lasers can be easily added to the system and would allow a much larger area of the sky to be sampled with even better correction of the atmospheric turbulence.

    The W. M. Keck Observatory operates the largest, most scientifically productive telescopes on Earth. The two, 10-meter optical/infrared telescopes near the summit of Maunakea on the Island of Hawaii feature a suite of advanced instruments including imagers, multi-object spectrographs, high-resolution spectrographs, integral-field spectrographs and world-leading laser guide star adaptive optics systems.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Mission
    To advance the frontiers of astronomy and share our discoveries with the world.

    The W. M. Keck Observatory operates the largest, most scientifically productive telescopes on Earth. The two, 10-meter optical/infrared telescopes on the summit of Mauna Kea on the Island of Hawaii feature a suite of advanced instruments including imagers, multi-object spectrographs, high-resolution spectrographs, integral-field spectrometer and world-leading laser guide star adaptive optics systems. Keck Observatory is a private 501(c) 3 non-profit organization and a scientific partnership of the California Institute of Technology, the University of California and NASA.

    Today Keck Observatory is supported by both public funding sources and private philanthropy. As a 501(c)3, the organization is managed by the California Association for Research in Astronomy (CARA), whose Board of Directors includes representatives from the California Institute of Technology and the University of California, with liaisons to the board from NASA and the Keck Foundation.
    Keck UCal

    Keck NASA

    Keck Caltech

     
  • richardmitnick 12:13 pm on November 27, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Adaptive Optics, , ,   

    From ESO: “Laser Guide Star Units Accepted and Shipped to Chile” 


    European Southern Observatory

    27 November 2015
    Domenico Bonaccini Calia
    ESO
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6567
    Email: dbonacci@eso.org

    Wolfgang Hackenberg
    ESO
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6782
    Email: whackenb@eso.org

    Richard Hook
    ESO, Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
    Cell: +49 151 1537 3591
    Email: rhook@eso.org

    1
    One of the units of the Four Laser Guide Star Facility for the VLT

    All four laser guide star units that form the Four Laser Guide Star Facility — a core part of the Adaptive Optics Facility (AOF) for ESO’s Very Large Telescope — have now been accepted and are being shipped to Chile. This is a major step towards establishing VLT Unit Telescope 4 as a fully adaptive telescope with much enhanced image quality.

    ESO 4LGSF Adaptive Optics Facility (AOF)
    The 4LGSF is to be installed as a subsystem of the Adaptive Optics Facility (AOF) on UT4 of the VLT, to provide the AO systems GALACSI/MUSE and GRAAL/HAWK-I with four sodium laser guide stars (LGSs), as artificial reference sources for the high-order AO corrections.

    The 4LGSF will deploy four modular LGS Units (see below) at the UT4 Centrepiece, as shown in Figure 1. Each LGS Unit consists of the Launch Telescope System incl. 20W Laser Head and two close-by cabinets, one hosting the Laser Unit electronics (incl. the pump fibre laser unit) and the other containing the local control electronics. Two additional 4LGSF cabinets are installed on a new 4LGSF Platform underneath the Nasmyth B platform and contain the computers for independently controlling the four LGS Units. The 4LGSF Platform also hosts the heat exchanger for the laser cooling system.

    An adaptive optics system uses sensors to analyse the atmospheric turbulence and a deformable mirror integrated in the telescope to correct for the image distortions caused by the atmosphere. But a bright point-like star very close in the sky to the object being studied is essential, so that the turbulence can be accurately characterised.

    Finding a natural star in the right place for this role is unlikely. So, to make the correction of the atmospheric turbulence possible everywhere in the sky, for all possible science targets, an artificial star is needed. Such stars can be created by projecting a powerful laser beam into the sky onto the sodium layer, where it creates a bright glow that appears star-like from the ground.

    By measuring the atmospherically induced motions and distortions of this artificial star, and making tiny adjustments to the deformable secondary mirror one thousand times per second, the telescope can produce images with much greater sharpness than is possible without adaptive optics.

    The first Adaptive Optics Facility laser guide star unit was installed on the VLT and successfully tested in situ earlier this year. These tests have confirmed the sound design implemented by ESO, in collaboration with European industry and scientific institutes [1]. Tests on VLT Unit Telescope 4 in Chile showed high optical quality, providing an almost perfect artificial star image, and high efficiency of the sodium layer excitation. These successes mean that the team can proceed with preliminary tests with GRAAL, the adaptive optics module feeding HAWK-I, the wide-field imager on Unit Telescope 4; all further steps towards the full commissioning of the Adaptive Optics Facility at Paranal.

    ESO Graal
    GRAAL

    ESO HAWK-I
    Hawk-I

    The Adaptive Optics Facility will use four lasers simultaneously, which will allow better characterisation of the atmosphere’s properties — and hence a larger field of view where the image is corrected — than is possible with just one laser.

    When fully installed, the Adaptive Optics Facility will feed light into two instruments, HAWK-I (in conjunction with GRAAL) and the integral field spectrograph, MUSE, (in conjunction with GALACSI).

    ESO MUSE
    MUSE

    ESO GALACSI
    GALACSI

    Notes

    [1] The companies involved include: TOPTICA, Germany; TNO, The Netherlands; MPB Communications, Canada; Optec, Italy; Astrel, Italy; and Laseroptik, Germany. In addition INAF–Osservatorio di Roma, Italy has made significant contributions to the project.

    Links

    More information about the laser
    More information about the deformable secondary mirror
    More information about the laser launch telescope

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.
    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition
    Visit ESO in Social Media-

    Facebook

    Twitter

    YouTube

    ESO Bloc Icon

    ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world’s largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre European Extremely Large Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.

    ESO LaSilla
    LaSilla

    ESO VLT Interferometer
    VLT

    ESO Vista Telescope
    VISTA

    ESO VLT Survey telescope
    VLT Survey Telescope

    ALMA Array
    ALMA

    ESO E-ELT
    E-ELT

    ESO APEX
    Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) Telescope

     
  • richardmitnick 3:09 pm on October 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Adaptive Optics, , , ,   

    From U Hawaii Institute For Astronomy: “Robotic Laser Astronomy on the Rise 

    U Hawaii

    University of Hawaii

    Institute for Astronomy

    October 12, 2015
    Dr. Christoph Baranec
    +1 808-498-9817
    baranec@hawaii.edu

    Dr. Roy Gal
    +1 808-956-6235
    cell: +1 301-728-8637
    rgal@ifa.hawaii.edu

    Ms. Louise Good
    Media Contact
    +1 808-381-2939
    good@ifa.hawaii.edu

    1
    The ultraviolet Robo-AO laser originating from the Palomar 1.5-meter Telescope dome. Although the laser is invisible to the human eye, it shows up in digital SLR cameras once their internal UV blocking filters are removed. The apparent color of the laser beam is a result of the UV light leaking through the camera’s red, green and blue pixel filters by slightly different amounts.)

    The world’s first robotic laser adaptive optics system, developed by a team led by University of Hawaii at Manoa astronomer Christoph Baranec, will soon find a new home at the venerable 2.1-meter (83-inch) telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona. This system, renamed Robo-AO KP, will be the world’s first dedicated adaptive optics astronomical observatory and will allow astronomers to take an unprecedented number of highly detailed images of a wide range of celestial objects.

    2
    Graduate students Rebecca Jensen-Clem (Caltech) and Maissa Salama (UH) rebuilding Robo-AO so it can be used on the 2.1-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory. Credit: C. Baranec.

    NOAO Kitt Peak 2.1 meter telescope
    NOAO Kitt Peak 2.1 meter telescope

    The prototype Robo-AO system has been operational on a part-time basis at the Palomar Observatory 1.5-meter (60-inch) telescope since 2011, and has been an indispensable tool for many areas of astronomy: It has confirmed thousands of exoplanet discoveries made by NASA’s Kepler mission and measured the rates at which different types of stars are born into single, double, triple and even quadruple star systems.

    Caltech Palomar 1.5 meter 60 inch telescope
    Caltech Palomar 1.5 meter 60 inch telescope interior
    Caltech Palomar 1.5 meter 60 inch telescope

    NASA Kepler Telescope
    NASA/Kepler

    3
    Christoph Baranec with Robo-AO on the 60-inch Palomar telescope. Photo courtesy C. Baranec.

    The Robo-AO team even recently discovered one of only two known quadruple star systems containing planets. Once the system becomes Robo-AO KP after its transfer to the Kitt Peak telescope later in 2015, the team will be able to take on much more ambitious projects.

    Baranec led the development of Robo-AO when he worked at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). Other core members of the Robo-AO team include Reed Riddle (Caltech), Nicholas Law (now at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) and Shri Kulkarni (Caltech). The same team, under the leadership of Kulkarni and Caltech, will be responsible for the overall deployment and operation of the Robo-AO KP system. Baranec is responsible for adapting Robo-AO to the new telescope optics and adding an additional infrared science camera based on new technologies being developed by fellow UH astronomer Donald Hall.

    “Not only will we now have the necessary observing time for adaptive optics surveys that were previously thought to be impractical, but we’ll also be augmenting our back-end cameras with new technology developed in Hawaii,” said Baranec. “I’m also excited that students from Hawaii are deeply involved in preparing Robo-AO for its move, deploying the new camera, and planning for several of the upcoming science surveys,” he added.

    In addition, Baranec is developing an upgraded Robo-AO system for the UH 2.2-meter (88-inch) telescope on Maunakea that will be even more powerful and will be equipped with additional instruments for studying nearby supernovae and cosmology in the local universe.

    U Hawaii 2.2 meter telescope
    U Hawaii 2.2 meter telescope interior
    U Hawaii 2.2 meter telescope

    Robo-AO uses an ultraviolet laser to create an artificial guide star in the sky to measure the blurring caused by Earth’s atmosphere. By measuring how the atmosphere affects this artificial star, a deformable mirror in the system can be commanded to remove its blurring effects. Because light from the laser and celestial objects pass through the same atmosphere, and both are reflected off of the deformable mirror, images of celestial objects are similarly de-blurred, leading to very sharp images limited only by the same laws of physics that limit the sharpness of space-based telescopes.

    As its name implies, Robo-AO KP will operate autonomously, making it the most efficient adaptive optics system in use today. (There will still be a telescope operator to handle routine opening and closing of the dome and monitoring of the weather.) Its invisible ultraviolet laser guide star beam will not distract or affect airplane pilots, or produce radiation that is hazardous during momentary exposures. Additionally, two months of observing time each year will be available to the broad United States astronomical community, which thus far has had only limited access to Robo-AO.

    Founded in 1967, the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii at Manoa conducts research into galaxies, cosmology, stars, planets, and the sun. Its faculty and staff are also involved in astronomy education, deep space missions, and in the development and management of the observatories on Haleakala and Maunakea. The Institute operates facilities on the islands of Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii.

    Kitt Peak National Observatory is a division of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy Inc. under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation.

    Time-lapse video: http://youtu.be/HN_jdJflfv0

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    System Overview

    The University of Hawai‘i System includes 10 campuses and dozens of educational, training and research centers across the Hawaiian Islands. As the public system of higher education in Hawai‘i, UH offers opportunities as unique and diverse as our Island home.

    The 10 UH campuses and educational centers on six Hawaiian Islands provide unique opportunities for both learning and recreation.

    UH is the State’s leading engine for economic growth and diversification, stimulating the local economy with jobs, research and skilled workers.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:27 pm on February 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Adaptive Optics, , ,   

    From ESO: “First Light for Laser Guide Star Technology Collaboration” 


    European Southern Observatory

    10 February 2015
    Domenico Bonaccini Calia
    ESO
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6567
    Email: dbonacci@eso.org

    Richard Hook
    ESO Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
    Cell: +49 151 1537 3591
    Email: rhook@eso.org

    1

    A team of astronomers and engineers from ESO, the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), the Gran Telescopio CANARIAS (GTC) and INAF Osservatorio Astronomico di Roma has achieved first light and successful commissioning of the ESO Wendelstein Laser Guide Star system [1] at the IAC’s Observatorio del Teide on Tenerife in Spain.

    IAC Observatorio del Tiede
    IAC Observatorio del Tiede

    Following an agreement in April 2014 between ESO and the IAC, the required infrastructure for the experiment was built at the observatory. The team carried out the installation and commissioning of the ESO Wendelstein Laser Guide Star Unit laser, the receiver system and the automated observing software.

    These joint activities are research and development studies to optimise the laser guide star return brightness from the upper atmosphere with special attention being paid to the influence of the geomagnetic field on the performance.

    The experimental setup uses fibre laser technologies developed at ESO to produce a 20-watt continuous wave laser that is capable of varying laser parameters such as frequency, spectral lines, linewidth, polarisation and intensity. The setup allows laser guide stars to be acquired automatically while switching the laser parameters and the pointing. Observational campaigns will start in February 2015 and continue at a rate of one week per quarter for a period of 15 months.

    This work is part of a larger laser guide star and adaptive optics technology research and development programme at ESO in collaboration with Member State institutes and companies, in the context of current and future large telescope projects including the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT).

    ESO E-ELT
    ESO/E-ELT

    These experiments are also a step towards the development of the laser guide star system for the GTC and could be adopted to upgrade existing systems at other telescopes such as the Large Binocular Telescope.

    Large Binocular Telescope
    LBT
    Notes

    [1] These laser systems are some of the technology used in the technique of adaptive optics, which compensates for the atmospheric turbulence that affects ground-based observations. An artificial guide star is produced by shining a powerful laser into the sky — which acts as an artificial reference point from which light is returned back to Earth — helping to create images of astronomical objects as sharp as if the telescope were in space.

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.
    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition
    Visit ESO in Social Media-

    Facebook

    Twitter

    YouTube

    ESO Main

    ESO, European Southern Observatory, builds and operates a suite of the world’s most advanced ground-based astronomical telescopes.

     
c
Compose new post
j
Next post/Next comment
k
Previous post/Previous comment
r
Reply
e
Edit
o
Show/Hide comments
t
Go to top
l
Go to login
h
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
Cancel
%d bloggers like this: