Adaptive Optics (AO) is a technique that allows astronomers to correct images received by a telescope for the distortions introduced as the light passes through the earth's atmosphere. The technique has made significant advances in recent years and its use is increasing and becoming routine at most of the world's largest telescopes. Now that AO is robust and reliable, scientists and engineers are seeking to apply it to a wider field of view so that larger objects or clusters of objects can all be viewed with the same high resolution at once. Dr. Michael Hart, of the University of Arizona, has been pursuing such a path for the MMT Observatory on Mount Hopkins in southern Arizona. This wide field will be realized by employing five ground-layer laser guide stars spread over a two arcminute field of view of the 6.5-meter telescope. By rapidly measuring the distortions of these guide stars over the field of view and correcting them with the MMT's adaptive secondary mirror, high spatial resolution over the entire field is being achieved. With the development effort nearly completed, Dr. Hart will now begin the last stage of the project to make the AO system fully robust and integrated with the instruments used by the scientists who have access to the 6.5-meter telescope. The new capability will make the observatory more efficient (less telescope time will be needed for objects of a given brightness) and allow for more detailed studies of structural details. This work is supported by NSF's Division of Astronomical Sciences program for Advanced Technologies and Instrumentation.

Agency
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Institute
Division of Astronomical Sciences (AST)
Application #
1105893
Program Officer
Eric Bloemhof
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
2011-07-15
Budget End
2014-06-30
Support Year
Fiscal Year
2011
Total Cost
$394,812
Indirect Cost
Name
University of Arizona
Department
Type
DUNS #
City
Tucson
State
AZ
Country
United States
Zip Code
85721