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Appl Opt. 2002 Jan 1;41(1):11-20.

Adaptive optics with four laser guide stars: correction of the cone effect in large telescopes.

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  • 1European Southern Observatory, Garching bei M√ľnchen, Germany.


We study the performance of an adaptive optics (AO) system with four laser guide stars (LGSs) and a natural guide star (NGS). The residual cone effect with four LGSs is obtained by a numerical simulation. This method allows the adaptive optics system to be extended toward the visible part of the spectrum without tomographic reconstruction of three-dimensional atmospheric perturbations, resolving the cone effect in the visible. Diffraction-limited images are obtained with 17-arc ms precision in median atmospheric conditions at wavelengths longer than 600 nm. The gain achievable with such a system operated on an existing AO system is studied. For comparison, performance in terms of achievable Strehl ratio is also computed for a reasonable system composed of a 40 x 40 Shack-Hartmann wave-front sensor optimized for the I band. Typical errors of a NGS wave front are computed by use of analytical formulas. With the NGS errors and the cone effect, the Strehl ratio can reach 0.45 at 1.25 microm under good-seeing conditions with the Nasmyth Adaptive Optics System (NAOS; a 14 x 14 subpupil wave-front sensor) at the Very Large Telescope and 0.8 with a 40 x 40 Shack-Hartmann wave-front sensor.

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