Adaptive optics with an infrared pyramid wavefront sensor at Keck

Charlotte Z. Bond, Sylvain Cetre, Scott Lilley, Peter Wizinowich, DImitri Mawet, Mark Chun, Edward Wetherell, Shane Jacobson, Charles Lockhart, Eric Warmbier, Sam Ragland, Carlos Alvarez, Olivier Guyon, Sean Goebel, Jacques Robert Delorme, Nemanja Jovanovic, Donald N. Hall, James K. Wallace, Mojtaba Taheri, Cedric PlantetVincent Chambouleyron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The study of cold or obscured, red astrophysical sources can significantly benefit from adaptive optics (AO) systems employing infrared (IR) wavefront sensors. One particular area is the study of exoplanets around M-dwarf stars and planet formation within protoplanetary disks in star-forming regions. Such objects are faint at visible wavelengths but bright enough in the IR to be used as a natural guide star for the AO system. Doing the wavefront sensing at IR wavelengths enables high-resolution AO correction for such science cases, with the potential to reach the contrasts required for direct imaging of exoplanets. To this end, a new near-infrared pyramid wavefront sensor (PyWFS) has been added to the Keck II AO system, extending the performance of the facility AO system for the study of faint red objects. We present the Keck II PyWFS, which represents a number of firsts, including the first PyWFS installed on a segmented telescope and the first use of an IR PyWFS on a 10-m class telescope. We discuss the scientific and technological advantages offered by IR wavefront sensing and present the design and commissioning of the Keck PyWFS. In particular, we report on the performance of the Selex Avalanche Photodiode for HgCdTe InfraRed Array detector used for the PyWFS and highlight the novelty of this wavefront sensor in terms of the performance for faint red objects and the improvement in contrast. The system has been commissioned for science with the vortex coronagraph in the NIRC2 IR science instrument and is being commissioned alongside a new fiber injection unit for NIRSPEC. We present the first science verification of the system - to facilitate the study of exoplanets around M-type stars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number039003
JournalJournal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments, and Systems
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020


  • adaptive optics
  • astronomy
  • infrared
  • wavefront sensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Instrumentation
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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