Increasing the Power of Subaru's Adaptive Optics System

October 25, 2011

On September 8th and 9th, Subaru Telescope hosted a workshop focused on Subaru's next-generation adaptive optics (AO) system, a successor to the present system. More than 70 astronomy researchers interested in adaptive optics, including some who participated via videoconferencing, gathered at the Osaka University Nakanoshima Center to attend the workshop.

AO is a technology that helps to unleash the potential power of a telescope by measuring and correcting for turbulence of the earth's atmosphere in real time. It will be an essential component of the next-generation extremely large telescopes such as the Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT). Although Subaru's current AO system is operating smoothly and its use is generating scientific results, the proposed system expands the benefits that AO can offer.

One of the most important aspects of the proposed new AO system is its wide field of view. The current AO system corrects for atmospheric turbulence near a specific celestial object within the telescope's view. The new system will be able to provide good image quality over a wide field of view that includes many objects.

Many exciting presentations and discussions of the proposed system's potential scientific applications occurred during the Osaka workshop, e.g., observations of galactic stars and star-forming regions as well as those of far distant galaxies. Subaru Telescope’s unique capability of conducting wide-field observations has yielded many excellent scientific results. However, an AO system has not assisted in such observations thus far. By using Subaru's proposed next-generation AO system for wide-field observations, observers will have excellent observing conditions for studying many astronomical objects at the same time. These dual advantages are likely to lead to intriguing, fresh views of the universe.

Following fruitful discussions at the workshop, a team of Subaru's astronomers will examine the specifications and feasibility of the new AO system as well as their alignment with scientific requirements. During the Subaru users' meeting in February 2012 in Mitaka, the team will share and discuss the results of their efforts to a wider audience of astronomy researchers. This further exploration of different aspects of the proposed system will be an essential step toward the realization of Subaru's next-generation AO system.



Photo: Dr. Yosuke Minowa, a Subaru Support Astronomer, is giving a presentation about Subaru's adaptive optics.



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