Supersharp images from new VLT Adaptive Optics

First light with a new adaptive optics mode called laser tomography.

This image of the planet Neptune was obtained during the testing of the Narrow-Field adaptive optics mode of the MUSE/GALACSI instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope. The corrected image is sharper than a comparable image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.
This image of the planet Neptune was obtained during the testing of the Narrow-Field adaptive optics mode of the MUSE/GALACSI instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope. The corrected image is sharper than a comparable image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

ESO‘s Very Large Telescope (VLT) has accomplished first light with another versatile optics mode called laser tomography — and has caught amazingly sharp test pictures of the planet Neptune, star clusters and different objects. The spearheading MUSE instrument in Narrow-Field Mode, working with the GALACSI adaptive optics module, would now be able to utilize this new method to remedy for turbulence at various elevations in the climate.

It is presently conceivable to capture pictures starting from the earliest stage obvious wavelengths that are more sharper than those from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The mix of stunning picture sharpness and the spectroscopic capacities of MUSE will empower stargazers to examine the properties of cosmic protests in considerably more prominent detail than was conceivable previously.

These images of the planet Neptune were obtained during the testing of the Narrow-Field adaptive optics mode of the MUSE/GALACSI instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope. The image on the right is without the adaptive optics system in operation and the one on the left after the adaptive optics are switched on.
These images of the planet Neptune were obtained during the testing of the Narrow-Field adaptive optics mode of the MUSE/GALACSI instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope. The image on the right is without the adaptive optics system in operation and the one on the left after the adaptive optics are switched on.

The MUSE (Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer) instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) works with a versatile optics unit called GALACSI. This influences utilization of the Laser Guide Star Facility, 4LGSF, a subsystem of the Adaptive Optics Facility (AOF). The AOF gives versatile optics to instruments on the VLTs Unit Telescope 4 (UT4). MUSE was the principal instrument to profit by this new office and it presently has two versatile optics modes — the Wide Field Mode and the Narrow Field Mode.

The MUSE Wide Field Mode coupled to GALACSI in ground-layer mode remedies for the impacts of air turbulence up to one kilometer over the telescope over a similarly wide field of view. Be that as it may, the new Narrow Field Mode utilizing laser tomography adjusts for the majority of the atmospheric turbulence over the telescope to make substantially sharper images, yet finished a small region of the sky.

With this new capability, the 8-meter UT4 reaches the theoretical limit of image sharpness and is no longer limited by atmospheric blur. This is extremely difficult to attain in the visible and gives images comparable in sharpness to those from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

The image of the planet Neptune on the left was obtained during the testing of the Narrow-Field adaptive optics mode of the MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope. The image on the right is a comparable image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Note that the two images were not taken at the same time so do not show identical surface features.
The image of the planet Neptune on the left was obtained during the testing of the Narrow-Field adaptive optics mode of the MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope. The image on the right is a comparable image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Note that the two images were not taken at the same time so do not show identical surface features.

It will enable astronomers to study in unprecedented detail fascinating objects such as supermassive black holes at the centers of distant galaxies, jets from young stars, globular clusters, supernovae, planets and their satellites in the Solar System and much more.

Adaptive optics is a strategy to adjust for the obscuring impact of the Earth’s atmosphere, otherwise called astronomical seeing, which is a major issue looked by all ground-based telescopes. A similar turbulence in the climate that makes stars twinkle to the bare eye brings about obscured pictures of the Universe for huge telescopes. Light from stars and galaxies becomes distorted as it goes through our air, and astronomers must utilize shrewd innovation to enhance image quality artificially.

To accomplish this four splendid lasers are settled to UT4 that task sections of extreme orange light 30 centimeters in width into the sky, fortifying sodium atoms high in the atmosphere and making artificial Laser Guide Stars. Adaptive optics systems utilize the light from these “stars” to decide the turbulence in the environment and figure amendments one thousand times each second, directing the thin, deformable auxiliary reflection of UT4 to continually modify its shape, rectifying for the distorted light.

MUSE is not the only instrument to benefit from the Adaptive Optics Facility. Another adaptive optics system, GRAAL, is already in use with the infrared camera HAWK-I. This will be followed in a few years by the powerful new instrument ERIS. Together these major developments in adaptive optics are enhancing the already powerful fleet of ESO telescopes, bringing the Universe into focus.

This new mode also constitutes a major step forward for the ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope, which will need Laser Tomography to reach its science goals. These results on UT4 with the AOF will help to bring ELT’s engineers and scientists closer to implementing similar adaptive optics technology on the 39-metre giant.

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