Measurements of speckle lifetimes in near-infrared extreme adaptive optics images for optimizing focal plane wavefront control

Sean B. Goebel, Olivier Guyon, Donald N.B. Hall, Nemanja Jovanovic, Julien Lozi, Frantz Martinache

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Although extreme adaptive optics (ExAO) systems can greatly reduce the effects of atmospheric turbulence and deliver diffraction-limited images, our ability to observe faint objects such as extrasolar planets or debris disks at small angular separations is greatly limited by the presence of a speckle halo caused by imperfect wavefront corrections. These speckles change with a variety of timescales, from milliseconds to many hours, and various techniques have been developed to mitigate them during observations and during data reduction. Detection limits improve with increased speckle reduction, so an understanding of how speckles evolve (particularly at near-infrared wavelengths, which is where most adaptive optics science instruments operate) is of distinct interest. We used a SAPHIRA detector behind Subaru Telescope’s SCExAO instrument to collect H-band images of the ExAO-corrected point-spread function (PSF) at a frame rate of 1.68 kHz. We analyzed these images using two techniques to measure the timescales over which the speckles evolved. In the first technique, we analyzed the images in a manner applicable to predicting performance of real-time speckle-nulling loops. We repeated this analysis using data from several nights to account for varying weather and AO conditions. In our second analysis, which follows the techniques employed by Milli et al. (2016) but using data with three orders of magnitude better temporal resolution, we identified a new regime of speckle behavior that occurs at timescales of milliseconds. It is not purely an instrument effect and likely is an atmospheric timescale filtered by the ExAO response. We also observed an exponential decay in the Pearson’s correlation coefficients (which we employed to quantify the change in speckles) on timescales of seconds and a linear decay on timescales of minutes, which is in agreement with the behavior observed by Milli et al. For both of our analyses, we also collected similar data sets using SCExAO’s internal light source to separate atmospheric effects from instrumental effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104502
JournalPublications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
Issue number992
StatePublished - Oct 2018


  • Adaptive optics-instrumentation
  • Atmospheric effects-instrumentation
  • High angular resolution
  • High angular resolution-methods
  • Statistical-techniques

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Measurements of speckle lifetimes in near-infrared extreme adaptive optics images for optimizing focal plane wavefront control'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this