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Adaptive Optics System Enhances 3.5-m Telescope

Photonics Spectra
Mar 1998
The Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany, and Adaptive Optics Associates in Cambridge, Mass., have installed an adaptive optics system on the joint German and Spanish 3.5-m telescope in Calar Alto, Spain.
The optical system corrects for atmospheric motion, which normally blurs the images seen through a telescope, allowing astronomers to see much finer detail. The system employs a high-power laser designed by the institute that creates an "artificial" star in the distance. A wavefront sensor measures the atmospheric distortions using light from either natural or artificial stars and then corrects for these distortions in real time with a deformable mirror.

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.
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