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Thread: Adaptive Optics

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    The images of the planet Uranus (The NEWS Feature) are perhaps the best available taken by a ground based telescope, in this instance the W.M. Keck observatory in Hawaii has used an improvement in the the telescopes' adaptive optics system.

    However, this is not the only observatory to carry out a major improvement in adaptive optics, in fact the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope facility at the Paranal observatory in Chili, has a new state-of-the-art system. The VLT Interferometer (VLTI) is actually a series of four 8.2 meter telescopes that are capable of combining the light from the single object each telescope is looking at, into a single image with a high resolving power. :huh:

    It is known as the MACAO-VLT, or Curvature Adaptive Optics System. In July this year the MACAO team scientists returned to Paranal to fit a third MACAO-VLTI system. These are 4 identical 60 element curvature adaptive optics systems, located in the Coude room of each telescope, whose aim is to feed a turbulence corrected wave front to the Very Large Telescope recombination laboratory.

    In 2003 the first (UT2) and second (UT3) saw first light, and one of the first images was of the planet Neptune shown here, taken in August of that year in the Hydrogen-band. The angular diameter of Neptune is 3 arc seconds and the width (FWHM) of the narrowest bands is 67 mas.

    So to be acurate, the planet Neptune with its distictive atmospheric cloud features, is a world equally as active as the planet Uranus in this weeks News Feature, while the images of Neptune were taken over a year ago. :huh:

    A Note For Your Diary

    Chris Lintott is now heading to Chili to do a report for the December Sky at Night program at the Paranal observaotory. The new MACAO-VLTI system may get a mention on the program.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    WOW! That is truly an amazing picture! I have never seen a picture like that through a scope.

    * Jim is dragging out his old plans to build the worlds most significant telescope of all, Muhahahaha*

    I wonder if there is any observatories here in MN. Would it ever be so cool to be there all day observing planets.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Thanks Spockjim,

    The adaptive obtics here is different to any on other big astronomical telescopes anywhere in the world, simply because The Very Large Telescope (VLT) is an interfoermoiter. Patrick Moore's BBC Sky at Night program this sunday 5 December (repeated on Freeview BBC4 Monday) will have a full report about the VLTI system Spock.jim.

    Also see todays' NEWS section of this site, my interview with astronomer Michiel Min. His observations of proto-planetary discks were only made possible because of the adaptive obtics in use on the VLTI.

    Richard Pearson
    Science Correspondent

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