Enabling technologies for visible adaptive optics: The magellan adaptive secondary VisAO camera

Derek Kopon, Jared Males, Laird M. Close, Victor Gasho

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

13 Scopus citations


Since its beginnings, diffraction-limited ground-based adaptive optics (AO) imaging has been limited to wavelengths in the near IR (λ > 1μm) and longer. Visible AO (λ < 1μm) has proven to be difficult because shorter wavelengths require wavefront correction on very short spatial and temporal scales. The pupil must be sampled very finely, which requires dense actuator spacing and fine wavefront sampling with large dynamic range. In addition, atmospheric dispersion is much more significant in the visible than in the near-IR. Imaging over a broad visible band requires a very good Atmospheric Dispersion Corrector (ADC). Even with these technologies, our AO simulations using the CAOS code, combined with the optical and site parameters for the 6.5m Magellan telescope, demonstrate a large temporal variability of visible (λ =0.7 m) Strehl on timescales of 50 ms. Over several hundred milliseconds, the visible Strehl can be as high at 50% and as low as 10%. Taking advantage of periods of high Strehl requires either the ability to read out the CCD very fast, thereby introducing significant amounts of read-noise, or the use of a fast asynchronous shutter that can block the low-Strehl light. Our Magellan VisAO camera will use an advanced ADC, a high-speed shutter, and our 585 actuator adaptive secondary to achieve broadband (0.5-1.0 m) diffraction limited images on the 6.5m Magellan Clay telescope in Chile at Las Campanas Observatory. These will be the sharpest and deepest visible direct images taken to date with a resolution of 17 mas, a factor of 2.7 better than the diffraction limit of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAstronomical and Space Optical Systems
StatePublished - 2009
EventAstronomical and Space Optical Systems - San Diego, CA, United States
Duration: Aug 2 2009Aug 3 2009

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


OtherAstronomical and Space Optical Systems
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego, CA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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