Performance modeling of a wide-field ground-layer adaptive optics system

David R. Andersen, Jeff Stoesz, Simon Morris, Michael Lloyd-Hart, David Crampton, Tim Butterley, Brent Ellerbroek, Laurent Jolissaint, N. Mark Milton, Richard Myers, Kei Szeto, Andrei Tokovinin, Jean Pierre Véran, Richard Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Using five independent analytic and Monte Carlo simulation codes, we have studied the performance of wide-field ground-layer adaptive optics (GLAO), which can use a single, relatively low order deformable mirror to correct the wave-front errors from the lowest altitude turbulence. GLAO concentrates more light from a point source in a smaller area on the science detector, but unlike with traditional adaptive optics, images do not become diffraction-limited. Rather, the GLAO point-spread function (PSF) has the same functional form as a seeing-limited PSF and can be characterized by familiar performance metrics such as full width at half-maximum (FWHM). The FWHM of a GLAO PSF is reduced by 0″.1 or more for optical and near-infrared wavelengths over different atmospheric conditions. For the Cerro Pachón atmospheric model, this correction is even greater when the image quality is poorest, which effectively eliminates "bad seeing" nights; the best seeing-limited image quality, available only 20% of the time, can be achieved 60%-80% of the time with GLAO. This concentration of energy in the PSF will reduce required exposure times and improve the efficiency of an observatory up to 30%-40%. These performance gains are relatively insensitive to a number of trade-offs, including the exact field of view of a wide-field GLAO system, the conjugate altitude and actuator density of the deformable mirror, and the number and configuration of the guide stars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1574-1590
Number of pages17
JournalPublications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
Issue number849
StatePublished - Nov 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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