GSU, Alpao to Upgrade CHARA Array

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Georgia State University's Center for High Angular Resolution Astronomy (CHARA) and optics developer Alpao SAS have signed a contract for the development of an adaptive optics upgrade for the CHARA array, the largest optical interferometer array in the world.

GSU, Alpao to Upgrade CHARA ArrayThe organizations will develop new deformable mirrors and improve the sensitivity of the interferometric telescopes on Mount Wilson, Calif. Alpao will develop and manufacture six deformable mirrors, each composed of 69 actuators to deform a plane mirror membrane. These deformable mirrors represent state-of-the-art instrumentation to correct for the effect of atmospheric turbulence. The goal of this technique, known as adaptive optics, is to observe stars and their surroundings as clearly as they would appear in space.

"We are delighted to begin this new stage in CHARA's scientific mission with deformable mirrors from Alpao," said Theo ten Brummelaar, CHARA array director. "Investigators around the world are now planning new programs with the adaptive optics system that will reveal some of the smallest objects in the sky ever measured."

The modifications will allow the telescopes to measure stars three times fainter than now possible. The new system will increase the number of nights with high-quality data by about a factor of three in the summer and five in the winter, with much faster observation times. New important areas of study will include the study of high-interest targets, such as dusty debris disks around young stars and accretion disks and gas flows around newborn stars.

"Alpao is proud to work with CHARA, the world's highest angular resolution telescope at near-infrared wavelengths," said Vincent Hardy, sales manager of Alpao. "This contract will push us to develop six specific deformable mirrors with a precise elliptical surface. All of our team is very excited to be a part of this project for the future of the interferometric telescope and the development of astronomical science."

Alpao designs and manufactures adaptive optics components and systems as well as deformable optical elements for the optimization and enhancement of optical systems.

Published: October 2016
The scientific observation of celestial radiation that has reached the vicinity of Earth, and the interpretation of these observations to determine the characteristics of the extraterrestrial bodies and phenomena that have emitted the radiation.
adaptive optics
Adaptive optics (AO) is a technology used to improve the performance of optical systems by reducing the effects of atmospheric distortions. The Earth's atmosphere can cause light passing through it to experience distortions, resulting in image blurring and degradation in various optical applications, such as astronomical observations, laser communications, and imaging systems. Adaptive optics systems actively adjust the optical elements in real-time to compensate for these distortions. Key...
astronomyBusinessmirrorsGeorgia State UniversityCenter for High Angular Resolution AstronomyAlpaoOpticstelescopesadaptive opticslight speed

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