Will the E-ELT use Adaptive Optics at visible wavelengths?

Will the E-ELT use Adaptive Optics at visible wavelengths?

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In this recent BBC article I read that the European Extremely Large Telescope or E-ELT is in final design and is planned to be on line by 2024, and that (of course) it will rely heavily on adaptive optics (AO) technology.

In a great answer and discussion related to my previous question, it seems that while most AO is actually implemented for infrared imaging, work is being done to push the technology to visible wavelengths.

Will the E-ELT have AO available for visible light imaging in the beginning, will it be phased in later, or is there currently no plan for visible light AO?

note: Adaptive Optics (AO) techniques allow ground based observatories to dramatically improve resolution by actively compensating for the effects of Astronomical Seeing through dynamically deformable optics. AO is also implemented in radio astronomy computationally applied when data from arrays is combined, as described in this answer.

A drawing of the E-ELT from from Wikipedia (note scale of humans):

From looking at the E-ELT website, it appears that at first light, the AO will only work for near-IR. Specifically, the instrument that can use AO is the MICADO instrument. The description page for this instrument states

MICADO, or the Multi-Adaptive Optics Imaging Camera for Deep Observations, is one of the first-light instruments for the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) instrument and takes the Adaptive Optics technique to the next level. It will be the first dedicated imaging camera for the E-ELT and works with the multi-conjugate adaptive optics module, MAORY.

MICADO will equip the E-ELT with a first light capability for diffraction limited imaging at near-infrared wavelengths.

The MAORY instrument will be the specific AO instrument which, at first light will operate at

wavelengths from 0.8-2.4µm

So in short, the answer appears to be that the E-ELT will only have AO capabilities for near-IR at first light.

As to whether or not there are plans for visible AO capabilities, I couldn't find anything specific to that question. Given that first light for this project is 8 years away at best, I think that plans for future upgrades are tentative at best, and likely not easily accessible to those not on the project. I will say that while the MAORY instrument appears to be the intended AO system at first light, there is listed a second AO instrument called ATLAS that will eventually make its way onto the telescope. While I can find no specific details of this particular instrument, its possible that this will provide for visible AO.

On a tangentially related note, this telescope will also have active optics that will help to improve their imaging capabilities.

Adaptive optics

Adaptive Optics (AO) is a technique that allows to correct the effects of the atmospheric turbulence, in order to increase the performance of ground based telescope. At LAM, researchers and engineers are conducting innovative research activities in AO and developing the next generation of instruments.

Adaptive Optics ?

Astronomy is a science where the observations of extremely distant objects are the single source of information. Therefore, larger aperture telescopes and higher angular resolution play a crucial role. Toward these objectives, one of the key technological breakthrough done in the past decades was the introduction of Adaptive Optics (AO) for astronomical observations.
At the cross of optics, electronics, atmospheric science, control theory, computer science and mathematics, AO is a technique that aims at compensating quickly-varying optical aberrations to restore the ultimate angular resolution limit of an optical system. It uses a combination of wave-front sensors, to analyze the light wave aberrations, and deformable mirrors to compensate them.

For astronomical telescopes, AO allows to overcome the natural ’’seeing’’ frontier : the blurring of images imposed by atmospheric turbulence and limiting the angular resolution of ground-based telescope to that achievable by a 10 to 50cm telescope, an order of magnitude below the diffraction limit of large 8-m class telescopes which are the current standard.

Within a decade, the world will see a new generation of telescopes with diameter up to 39m, called the Extremely Large Telescopes (ELTs). These giants will address fundamental astrophysical science cases as for instance the direct imaging and characterization of exo-worlds or the study of bulk and evolution of the first galaxies. The scientific potential of these giants relies on challenging new AO concepts, integrated inside the telescope itself, and providing high-resolution images to all the instrumentation downstream.

At LAM, the AO activities are covering both innovative research and participation to large projects. With more than 15 people (permanents, PhDs, post-docs) LAM is one of world leader institute for AO.

Knowing more on AO

There are plenty of nice tutorials on Adaptive Optics on the web, below is a non-exhaustive list of examples :

Participation to large AO projects


HARMONI is a visible and near-infrared integral field spectrograph, providing the E-ELT’s core spectroscopic capability. It will exploit the E-ELT’s scientific niche in its early years, starting at first light. To get the full sensitivity and spatial resolution gain, HARMONI will work at diffraction limited scales. This will be possible thanks to two adaptive optics systems, complementary to each other. The first one is a simple but efficient Single Conjugate AO system (good performance, low sky coverage), fully integrated in HARMONI itself. The second one is a Laser Tomographic AO system (medium performance, very good sky coverage).

HARMONI is led by a consortium of 6 partners - two from UK : Oxford University (PI institute), UK-ATC two from Spain : IAC in Tenerife, and the CAB in Madrid and two from France : CRAL in Lyon and LAM in Marseille. On top of that, four associate partners are also working with the HARMONI team these are the University of Durham, ONERA (Paris), IPAG (Grenoble) and RAL Space.
For HARMONI, LAM is responsible for delivering the two AO modules. In particular, the group is responsible for supplying the most realistic simulations to the scientific group, propose detailed error budgets related to the AO system, to analyze the interfaces with the instrument and the telescope and finally to propose wavefront sensor concepts answering the diverse scientific and technical constraints.


The instrumentation plan for the EELT foresees a Multi-Object Spectrograph (E-ELT MOS). The MOSAIC project is proposed by a European-Brazilian consortium, to provide a unique MOS facility for astrophysics, studies of the inter-galactic medium and for cosmology. The science cases range from spectroscopy of the most distant galaxies, mass assembly and evolution of galaxies, via resolved stellar populations and galactic archaeology, to planet formation studies. A further strong driver are spectroscopic follow-up observations of targets that will be discovered with the James Webb Space Telescope.
The MOSAIC instrument will be assisted with several flavors of Adaptive Optics, including a challenging Multi-Object AO scheme. This new AO technique has recently been demonstrated with on-sky experiments such as Canary or Raven.
For MOSAIC, LAM is in charge of performing AO simulations, as well as developing the Laser Guide Star WFSs.


ESO is considering building an adaptive optics instrument to make best use of the Adaptive Optics Facility (AOF). This instrument, called MAVIS should be installed at the VLT by 2025.
The VLT already offers a range of high angular resolution and high contrast instruments and the E-ELT will expand these capabilities even further. Therefore one potential development would be to open the parameter space toward a visible wide-field AO instrument.
Pushing the corrections toward visible wavelengths, providing diffraction-limited images on medium field-of-view (15” to 30”), and with reasonable sky coverage represents a huge step forward, and a unique science niche for 8m telescopes in the ELT era. Indeed, such an instrument would represent an ideal replacement for the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), and cover a parameter space that will not be covered by any of the ELTs first light instruments, nor by future space missions. However, pushing AO wide-field correction toward visible wavelengths requires challenging development in concepts and technologies and new observational strategies.
Our group is leading activities in order to be at the center of these developments, and to provide all the required bricks for this future instrument.

SPHERE upgrade

SPHERE is an instrument installed at the VLT UT1 telescope. SPHERE is optimized toward the detection and characterization of exo-planets. It combines a very powerful AO system, called eXtreme AO or XAO, with a coronagraph to suppress the host star light, and explore its surroundings where planets forms and evolve. A project is envisioned in order to improve even further the AO performance, in particular by changing the Wave-Front Sensor from a classical Shack-Hartmann, into a more sensitive Near-Infra Red Pyramid.

AO R&D activities

Wave-front sensing

The wave front control is a fundamental aspect when looking for the performance and the maximum sky coverage of AO systems. The wavefront sensor (WFS) is the instrument which supplies the measurements from which the deformable mirror is controlled to correct the atmospheric turbulence. The R&D group is working on different WFS technologies, covering the so-called "pupil plane" and "focal plane" types. As such, we are covering a wide range a concepts, including Shack-Hartmann, Lifted Shack-Hartmann, Pyramid, Zelda or COFEE. The R&D group gathers several AO optical test-beds, developed to validate new concepts, from laboratory experiments to on-sky validations.

Data processing

The generalization and diversification of AO systems open an incredible amount of new astronomical discoveries. It also brings new challenges in terms of data reduction, and system optimization.
In order to get the best science results out of the AO images, and to fully optimize the return of such complex systems, dedicated and optimized reduction tools are needed. These tools must be built with a deep understanding of the system performance and limitations. These tools must be adapted to each science objectives. Based on the unique skills and knowledge gathered in our team, we are developing set of data reduction and analysis tools for AO systems. These tools will be made accessible to the astronomical community, and should pave the way for the preparation of the ELTs.

An important area where the LAM R&D group is actively contributing concerns PSF-Reconstruction. Indeed, all the AO science cases can largely benefit from a precise knowledge of the Point Spread Function (PSF). While the PSF can sometimes be estimated, it remains a major problem when analyzing data from current AO systems. An important objective of our team is therefore to enable the PSF to be derived from the AO-observations.

High-Contrast imaging

In combination with extreme AO, high-contrast imaging is one of the key techniques to directly image and characterize exoplanets. GRD has developed wavefront sensors based on phase masks (ZEUS, ZELDA), from the theoretical developments up to the on-sky validation in world-class facilities. It is now leading the ERC project HiRise that aims at coupling VLT/SPHERE and VLT/CRIRES+ with an optical fiber link. The goal is to combine the power of high-contrast imaging and high-resolution spectroscopy for the characterization of known exoplanets.

For practical R&D developments, GRD has developed the Marseille Imaging Testbed for HIgh Contrast (MITHIC), a flexible platform dedicated to the test of components and concepts for high-contrast imaging for ground-based applications.

The bench was originally developed for the validation of the apodized Roddier coronagraph and the ZELDA wavefront sensor in a static environment. It now includes a residual turbulence simulator that enables testing concepts in a more realistic environment for ground-based XAO instruments. The main scientific focus of MITHIC is currently 1/ the development of strategies to measure and compensate non-common path aberrations, and 2/ the validation of wavefront control techniques to improve the contrast in coronagraphic and non-coronagraphic images. Since 2018, MITHIC is used in the HiRISE project to validate acquisition and centering strategies for injection into single mode fibers.

Collaboration network

The work done by the LAM AO team is a collaborative work, shared with several European and international groups. Our collaborative network is strong, and allows to host senior scientists for short and long period, exchange students, and share PhD programs. Among other, we have developed a strong network with the following teams :

  • Keck Observatory
  • INAF-Arcetri
  • PUC-Santiago
  • Gemini Observatory
  • HIA Canada

Science objectives

MUSE will be optimised for the study of:

  • Formation of galaxies
    • high redshift Lyman alpha emitters
    • flouorescent emission and the cosmic web
    • reionisation
    • feedback processes and galaxy formation
    • ultra-deep surveys using strong gravitational lensing
    • resolved spectroscopy at intermediate redshifts
    • Sunyaev-Zeldovich effect
    • late forming population III objects
    • supermassive black holes in nearby galaxies
    • kinematics and stellar populations
    • interacting galaxies
    • star formation in nearby galaxies
    • early stages of stellar evolution
    • masive spectroscopy of stellar fields:
      • the Milky Way and the Magellanic Clouds
      • the Local Group and beyond
      • Galilean satellites, Titan
      • surface heterogeneities of the small bodies
      • temporal changes in the gas giant planets

      These science objectives were elaborated by the MUSE Consortium during the Phase A study.

      2 Key Capabilities and Science Drivers

      MICADO will excel at several key capabilities that exemplify the unique features of the E-ELT. These are at the root of the science cases, which span key elements of modern astrophysics, and have driven the design of the camera. The science cases are developed in detail elsewhere [6] and here we focus on how MICADO’s characteristics enable it to address them.

      2.1 Sensitivity and Resolution

      MICADO is optimised for imaging at the diffraction limit, and will fully sample the 6–10 mas FWHM in the J–K bands. With a throughput exceeding 60% its sensitivity at 1–2 μ m will be comparable to, or surpass, JWST for isolated point sources. MICADO’s resolution means that it will be clearly superior to JWST in crowded regions. In addition, its field of view of nearly 1 arcmin yields a significant multiplex advantage compared to other ground-based cameras on ELTs. Together, these characteristics make MICADO a powerful tool for many science cases. Continuum and emission line mapping of high redshift galaxies will enable it to address questions concerning their assembly, and subsequent evolution in terms of mergers, internal secular instabilities, and bulge growth. The resolution of better than 100 pc at z ∼ 2 , equivalent to 1 ′ ′ imaging of Virgo Cluster galaxies, will resolve the individual star-forming complexes and clusters, which is the key to understanding the processes that drive their evolution. Alternatively, one can probe a galaxy’s evolution through colour-magnitude diagrams that trace the fossil record of its star formation. Spatially resolving the stellar populations in this way is a crucial ability, since integrated luminosities are dominated by only the youngest and brightest population. MICADO will extend the sample volume from the Local Group out to the Virgo Cluster and push the analysis of the stellar populations deeper into the centres of these galaxies.

      2.2 Precision Astrometry

      With only fixed mirrors in its primary imaging field, gravity invariant rotation, and HAWAII-4RG detectors (developed to meet the stringent requirements of space astrometry missions), MICADO is an ideal instrument for astrometry. A robust pipeline will bring precision astrometry into the mainstream. An analysis of the statistical and systematic effects [7, 8] shows that an accuracy of 40 μ as in a single epoch of observations is achievable and after only 3–4 years it will be possible to measure proper motions of 10 μ as yr − 1 , equivalent to 5 km s − 1 at 100 kpc. At this level, many astronomical objects are no longer static but become dynamic, leading to dramatic new insights into the three dimensional structure and evolution of many phenomena. Proper motions of faint stars within light-hours of the Galactic Center will measure the gravitational potential in the relativistic regime very close to the central black hole, and may also reveal the theoretically predicted extended mass distribution from stellar black holes that should dominate the inner region. The internal kinematics and proper motions of Globular Clusters will yield insights on intermediate mass black holes as well as the formation and evolution of the Galaxy. Similar analyses of Dwarf Spheroidals will reveal the amount and distribution of dark matter in these objects, and hence test models of hierarchical structure formation.

      2.3 High Throughput Spectroscopy

      Spectroscopy is an obvious and powerful complement to pure imaging, and is implemented as a simple slit spectrometer with a high throughput that is ideal for obtaining spectra of compact objects. The resolution of R ∼ 3000 is sufficient to probe between the near infrared OH lines. This simple addition will enhance many science cases, for example: deriving stellar types and 3D orbits in the Galactic Center using velocities of stars in nearby galaxies to probe central black hole masses and extended mass distributions measuring absorption lines in galaxies at z = 2 –3 and emission lines in galaxies at z = 4 –6 to derive their ages, metallicities, and star forming histories and obtaining spectra of the first supernovae at z = 1 –6.

      The Resolution of a Telescope

      In addition to gathering as much light as they can, astronomers also want to have the sharpest images possible. Resolution refers to the precision of detail present in an image: that is, the smallest features that can be distinguished. Astronomers are always eager to make out more detail in the images they study, whether they are following the weather on Jupiter or trying to peer into the violent heart of a “cannibal galaxy” that recently ate its neighbor for lunch.

      One factor that determines how good the resolution will be is the size of the telescope. Larger apertures produce sharper images. Until very recently, however, visible-light and infrared telescopes on Earth’s surface could not produce images as sharp as the theory of light said they should.

      The problem—as we saw earlier in this chapter—is our planet’s atmosphere, which is turbulent. It contains many small-scale blobs or cells of gas that range in size from inches to several feet. Each cell has a slightly different temperature from its neighbor, and each cell acts like a lens, bending (refracting) the path of the light by a small amount. This bending slightly changes the position where each light ray finally reaches the detector in a telescope. The cells of air are in motion, constantly being blown through the light path of the telescope by winds, often in different directions at different altitudes. As a result, the path followed by the light is constantly changing.

      For an analogy, think about watching a parade from a window high up in a skyscraper. You decide to throw some confetti down toward the marchers. Even if you drop a handful all at the same time and in the same direction, air currents will toss the pieces around, and they will reach the ground at different places. As we described earlier, we can think of the light from the stars as a series of parallel beams, each making its way through the atmosphere. Each path will be slightly different, and each will reach the detector of the telescope at a slightly different place. The result is a blurred image, and because the cells are being blown by the wind, the nature of the blur will change many times each second. You have probably noticed this effect as the “twinkling” of stars seen from Earth. The light beams are bent enough that part of the time they reach your eye, and part of the time some of them miss, thereby making the star seem to vary in brightness. In space, however, the light of the stars is steady.

      Astronomers search the world for locations where the amount of atmospheric blurring, or turbulence, is as small as possible. It turns out that the best sites are in coastal mountain ranges and on isolated volcanic peaks in the middle of an ocean. Air that has flowed long distances over water before it encounters land is especially stable.

      The resolution of an image is measured in units of angle on the sky, typically in units of arcseconds. One arcsecond is 1/3600 degree, and there are 360 degrees in a full circle. So we are talking about tiny angles on the sky. To give you a sense of just how tiny, we might note that 1 arcsecond is how big a quarter would look when seen from a distance of 5 kilometers. The best images obtained from the ground with traditional techniques reveal details as small as several tenths of an arcsecond across. This image size is remarkably good. One of the main reasons for launching the Hubble Space Telescope was to escape Earth’s atmosphere and obtain even sharper images.

      But since we can’t put every telescope into space, astronomers have devised a technique called adaptive optics that can beat Earth’s atmosphere at its own game of blurring. This technique (which is most effective in the infrared region of the spectrum with our current technology) makes use of a small flexible mirror placed in the beam of a telescope. A sensor measures how much the atmosphere has distorted the image, and as often as 500 times per second, it sends instructions to the flexible mirror on how to change shape in order to compensate for distortions produced by the atmosphere. The light is thus brought back to an almost perfectly sharp focus at the detector. [link] shows just how effective this technique is. With adaptive optics, ground-based telescopes can achieve resolutions of 0.1 arcsecond or a little better in the infrared region of the spectrum. This impressive figure is the equivalent of the resolution that the Hubble Space Telescope achieves in the visible-light region of the spectrum.

      Power of Adaptive Optics. One of the clearest pictures of Jupiter ever taken from the ground, this image was produced with adaptive optics using an 8-meter-diameter telescope at the Very Large Telescope in Chile. Adaptive optics uses infrared wavelengths to remove atmospheric blurring, resulting in a much clearer image. (credit: modification of work by ESO, F.Marchis, M.Wong (UC Berkeley) E.Marchetti, P.Amico, S.Tordo (ESO))

      In the popular view (and some bad movies), an astronomer spends most nights in a cold observatory peering through a telescope, but this is not very accurate today. Most astronomers do not live at observatories, but near the universities or laboratories where they work. An astronomer might spend only a week or so each year observing at the telescope and the rest of the time measuring or analyzing the data acquired from large project collaborations and dedicated surveys. Many astronomers use radio telescopes for space experiments, which work just as well during the daylight hours. Still others work at purely theoretical problems using supercomputers and never observe at a telescope of any kind.

      Even when astronomers are observing with large telescopes, they seldom peer through them. Electronic detectors permanently record the data for detailed analysis later. At some observatories, observations may be made remotely, with the astronomer sitting at a computer thousands of miles away from the telescope.

      Time on major telescopes is at a premium, and an observatory director will typically receive many more requests for telescope time than can be accommodated during the year. Astronomers must therefore write a convincing proposal explaining how they would like to use the telescope and why their observations will be important to the progress of astronomy. A committee of astronomers is then asked to judge and rank the proposals, and time is assigned only to those with the greatest merit. Even if your proposal is among the high-rated ones, you may have to wait many months for your turn. If the skies are cloudy on the nights you have been assigned, it may be more than a year before you get another chance.

      Some older astronomers still remember long, cold nights spent alone in an observatory dome, with only music from a tape recorder or an all-night radio station for company. The sight of the stars shining brilliantly hour after hour through the open slit in the observatory dome was unforgettable. So, too, was the relief as the first pale light of dawn announced the end of a 12-hour observation session. Astronomy is much easier today, with teams of observers working together, often at their computers, in a warm room. Those who are more nostalgic, however, might argue that some of the romance has gone from the field, too.

      Key concepts and summary

      New technologies for creating and supporting lightweight mirrors have led to the construction of a number of large telescopes since 1990. The site for an astronomical observatory must be carefully chosen for clear weather, dark skies, low water vapor, and excellent atmospheric seeing (low atmospheric turbulence). The resolution of a visible-light or infrared telescope is degraded by turbulence in Earth’s atmosphere. The technique of adaptive optics, however, can make corrections for this turbulence in real time and produce exquisitely detailed images.

      Will the E-ELT use Adaptive Optics at visible wavelengths? - Astronomy

      METIS, named after the Greek goddess of wisdom, will be one of the first-generation ELT instruments. It will cover the infrared wavelength range and make full use of the giant, 39-metre main mirror of the telescope to study a wide range of science topics, from objects in our Solar System to distant active galaxies.

      METIS, named after the Greek goddess of wisdom, will be one of the first-generation ELT instruments. It will cover the infrared wavelength range and make full use of the giant, 39-metre main mirror of the telescope to study a wide range of science topics, from objects in our Solar System to distant active galaxies.

      METIS, named after the Greek goddess of wisdom, will be one of the first-generation ELT instruments. It will cover the infrared wavelength range and make full use of the giant, 39-metre main mirror of the telescope to study a wide range of science topics, from objects in our Solar System to distant active galaxies.

      METIS’s powerful spectrograph and high-contrast imager will allow us to make stunning discoveries near and far and unravel some of the most pressing mysteries about our Universe. In particular, it is expected to make large contributions to one of the most dynamic and exciting fields of astronomy for both scientists and the public — exoplanets. It will allow astronomers to investigate the basic physical and chemical properties of exoplanets, like their orbital parameters, their temperature, luminosity and the composition and dynamics in their atmospheres. In addition, METIS will contribute to numerous other areas, including the study of Solar System objects, circumstellar discs and star forming regions, properties of brown dwarfs, the centre of the Milky Way, the environment of evolved stars, and active galactic nuclei.

      METIS is well-suited to investigating a variety of astronomical objects, including protoplanetary discs, exoplanets, Solar System bodies, and stars.

      The instrument consists of two separate units, one for the imager and another one for the spectrograph. It is entirely in a cryostat to maintain the stable low temperatures required for good performance at mid-infrared wavelengths.

      METIS is made possible through the collaboration between astronomy institutes in various countries in Europe amd overseas.

      How do stars and planets form? How many Earth-sized planets exist around the nearest stars? What lurks at the centre of the Milky Way and galaxies further afield? These are just some of the questions the METIS instrument on the ELT will tackle.

      METIS will help astronomers better understand planet formation by investigating the physical structure and evolution of protoplanetary discs, as well as the chemical composition of planet-forming material. The instrument will also allow astronomers to look into already formed planets around other stars, by investigating the climates and atmospheric properties of short- and long-period gas-dominated exoplanets, as well as searching for small planets around the nearest stars.

      In our own Solar System, METIS will allow astronomers to peer through the Martian atmosphere, searching for unknown molecular species in the limb of Mars, which formed at altitudes of 80–100 km under the solar ultraviolet flux. METIS will also study asteroids and Kuiper belt objects, which provide a window into the properties of the protoplanetary disc where Earth and other planets formed. With METIS, astronomers will be able to derive the physical conditions and chemical composition of our planet-formation disc via spectroscopy of asteroids (inner regions) and Kuiper belt objects (outer regions).

      METIS will be extremely well suited to study the life cycle of stars, from infant protostars to older stars near the end of their lifetime. It will further our understanding of the formation of massive stars by investigating accretion processes and disc properties, multiplicities, feedback processes, and luminosity functions in embedded stellar clusters. It will also help astronomers study evolved stars and their circumstellar environments, allowing us to better understand the complex inner wind zone of asymptotic giant branch star envelopes: the velocity, density and thermal structures of the complex envelopes, and their chemistry. METIS is also well suited to study low-mass brown dwarfs ("failed" stars), allowing the search for a possible population of cooler (T < 400 K) brown dwarfs and studies of their rotational velocity.

      In addition, the instrument will allow astronomers to study galaxies and the environments at their centres where black holes lurk. In our own Milky Way, METIS will investigate the immediate vicinity of the galactic black hole, as well as the properties of surrounding young star clusters. METIS will also allow us to do extragalactic science, both at low and intermediate redshift. Looking at closer-by galaxies, it will help us understand the physical origin of the correlation between black hole and galactic spheroid mass from size, geometry, and dynamics of the circumnuclear region, and the interplay between star formation and nuclear feedback. At intermediate redshifts, METIS will study the evolution and merger history of the most luminous infrared galaxies via the morphology and velocity field of their redshifted Hα emission.

      Wave-front correctors

      GMT Adaptive Secondary Mirrors design overview
      Daniele Gallieni, Roberto Biasi

      The new VLT-DSM M2 unit: construction and electromechanical testing [Paper] [Slides]
      Daniele Gallieni, Roberto Biasi

      Manufacturing E-ELT M4 glassy thin shell: feasibility and preliminary results
      Florence Poutriquet, Eric Ruch

      Optical calibration and test of the VLT Deformable Secondary Mirror [Paper] [Slides]
      Runa Briguglio, Marco Xompero, Armando Riccardi, Mario Andrighettoni, Dietrich Pescoller, Roberto Biasi, Daniele Gallieni, Elise Vernet, Johann Kolb, Robin Arsenault, Pierre-Yves Madec

      MEMS Deformable Mirrors for Advanced AO Instrumentation [Slides]
      Paul Bierden

      The Adaptive Mirror for the E-ELT [Paper] [Slides]
      Elise Vernet, Marc Cayrel, Norbert Hubin, Roberto Biasi, Gerald Angerer, Mario Andrighettoni, Dietrich Pescoller, Daniele Gallieni, Matteo Tintori, Marco Mantegazza, Armando Riccardi, Marco Riva, Giorgio Pariani, Runa Briguglio, Marco Xompero

      Improving the broadband contrast at small inner working angles using image sharpening techniques [Paper]
      Sandrine Thomas, Eugene Pluzhnik, Julien Lozi, Ruslan Belikov, Fred Witteborn, Thomas Greene, Glenn Schneider, Olivier Guyon

      Progress towards a woofer-tweeter adaptive optics test bench based on a magnetic-fluid DM
      Denis Brousseau, Jean-Pierre Veran, Simon Thibault, Ermanno Borra, Simon Fortin-Boivin

      On the cg-method for atmospheric reconstruction
      Andreas Obereder, Sergiy Pereverzyev Jun., Ronny Ramlau, Matthias Rosensteiner

      Will the E-ELT use Adaptive Optics at visible wavelengths? - Astronomy

      Code to calculate the sensitivity of a ground-based instrument for astronomy at mid-infrared wavelengths (3-15 micron). Written for the METIS instrument for the E-ELT but easily customisable.

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      Will the E-ELT use Adaptive Optics at visible wavelengths? - Astronomy

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      Adaptive optics systems for HARMONI: a visible and near-infrared integral field spectrograph for the E-ELT

      Thierry Fusco, 1 Niranjan Thatte, 2 Serge Meimon, 1 Matthias Tecza, 3 Fraser Clarke, 3 Mark Swinbank 4

      1 ONERA (France)
      2 Univ. of Oxford (France)
      3 Univ. of Oxford (United Kingdom)
      4 Durham Univ. (United Kingdom)


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      HARMONI is a visible and near-infrared integral field spectrograph for the E-ELT. It needs to work at diffraction limited scales. This will be possible thanks to two adaptive optics systems, complementary to each other. Both systems will make use of the telescope's adaptive M4 and M5 mirrors. The first one is a simple but efficient Single Conjugate AO system (good performance, low sky coverage), fully integrated in HARMONI itself. The second one is a Laser Tomographic AO system (medium performance, very good sky coverage). We present the overall design of the SCAO system and discuss the complementary between SCAO and LTAO for HARMONI.

      © (2010) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.

      Kick-off for the E-ELT-Camera MICADO: a new era of precision astronomy

      The MICADO camera, a first light instrument for the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), has entered a new phase in the project: by agreeing to a Memorandum of Understanding, the partners in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria, and Italy, have all confirmed their participation. Following this milestone, the project's transition into its preliminary design phase was approved at a kick-off meeting held in Vienna. Two weeks earlier, on September 18, the consortium and the European Southern Observatory (ESO), which is building the telescope, have signed the corresponding collaboration agreement. As the first dedicated camera for the E-ELT, MICADO will equip the giant telescope with a capability for diffraction-limited imaging at near-infrared wavelengths.

      MICADO is the Multi-AO Imaging Camera for Deep Observations, which has been designed to work on the 39-m European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). This revolutionary telescope will be the largest optical/near-infrared telescope in the world, gathering about 15 times more light than the largest optical telescopes existing today. The MICADO camera will provide the capability for diffraction-limited imaging at near-infrared wavelengths, taking the power of adaptive optics to the next level. To correct for distortions due to the Earth’s atmosphere, MICADO is optimized to make use of adaptive optics (AO): a simple single conjugate AO mode (SCAO) for correction of individual targets and a powerful multi-conjugate AO mode provided by the MAORY (Multi-conjugate Adaptive Optics RelaY) instrument to obtain sharp images over a wide-field of view.

      The key capabilities of MICADO are matched to the unique features of the new telescope, and will lead to dramatic discoveries of new or unexplored astrophysical phenomena. To name but a few: Its high sensitivity will allow it to detect the faintest stars and furthest galaxies. Its unprecedented spatial resolution will reveal structures in nebulae and galaxies in detail far beyond what is currently possible. For instance, by resolving stellar populations in distant galaxies their star formation history and evolution can be studied. And with the superb astrometric precision achieved by MICADO, many astronomical objects will no longer be static – they will become dynamic. Measuring the tiny movements of stars will reveal the presence of otherwise hidden black holes in star clusters, and tracking the motions of star clusters will lead to new insights about how our Milky Way formed. In addition, MICADO includes a special mode that will allow it to directly observe and characterize extrasolar planets, and another that enables it to take spectra of compact objects.

      “It’s an incredibly exciting prospect, the measurements we’ll be able to make with our camera and this giant future telescope,” says Ric Davies, the Principal Investigator at MPE. “But this is also a very challenging project, and I am glad to have such a capable and enthusiastic team.”

      The MICADO instrument will be developed and built by a consortium of European institutes in collaboration with ESO. All partners have a strong tradition of working together to design and build world-class optical and infrared instrumentation. The project is expected to last nearly 10 years from the beginning of the current design phase to the end of commissioning, with the first light of both the E-ELT and MICADO planned for 2024.

      As the lead institute, MPE is responsible for the overall project management and system engineering, and represents the consortium towards ESO. In addition, the team at MPE takes the lead in the developing and constructing the MICADO cryostat and the cold optics.

      The main contributions of MPIA to MICADO are the high-precision Instrument-De-Rotator and the Calibration Units. The De-Rotator compensates the rotation of the field of view caused by the rotation of the Earth during observations. The Calibration Units will support the detector calibration of both the imaging camera and the spectrograph. A particular challenge is the long-time calibration of astrometric imaging errors unavoidable for a wide- field instrument like MICADO.
      "The combination of the never before achieved resolution and light collecting power of the 39m-E-ELT will allow us to unravel for the first time the transition area between the low-mass stellar black holes and their supermassive counterparts in the centers of galaxies," says Jörg-Uwe Pott from MPIA, Instrument Scientist for the entire MICADO project, and adds: "We will win important insights into the innermost processes of active galaxies and the star- and galaxy formation in the early universe."

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