Ground-Based High Resolution Imaging in the Visible: The Cambridge Lucky Aperture Synthesis Instrument

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Institute of Astronomy

Abstract

The Hubble Space Telescope has produced astonishing pictures for many years but it will only survive for a few more years at most. Already astronomers are striving to achieve high resolution on the ground but the methods being used such as adaptive optics and laser guide stars are still a long way from being able to deliver good image quality in the visible. The Cambridge Lucky Aperture Synthesis Instrument (CLASI) uses a combination of proven technologies to deliver the highest resolution images that the telescope would be capable of producing if it was above the atmosphere. Usually fluctuations in the atmosphere substantially degrade ground-based images. In this instrument we break up the aperture of the telescope into many sub apertures and then recombine them in a carefully controlled way that lets us check the quality of the images tens of times per second. By selecting those images which are truly of the best quality we can synthesise a telescope in the computer that gives the highest quality image possible using methods already widely used by radio astronomers. This instrument is designed to give a resolution three times better than that of the Hubble Space Telescope, on the ground and a moderate cost. There are still many things that a space telescope will be able to do better than one on the ground but until new space projects are started this is likely to be the only way we can observe the most distant parts of the universe efficiently and with the best image quality.

Publications

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Crass Jonathan (2015) The Adaptive Optics Lucky Imager: Diffraction limited imaging at visible wavelengths with large ground-based telescopes in American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts #225

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Faedi F (2013) Lucky imaging of transiting planet host stars with LuckyCam in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Mackay C (2013) High-efficiency lucky imaging in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Faedi F (2013) Lucky imaging of transiting planet host stars with LuckyCam in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Aisher P (2013) Wavefront phase retrieval with non-linear curvature sensors in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Velasco S (2016) High spatial resolution optical imaging of the multiple T Tauri system LkHa 262/LkHa 263 in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

 
Description This research proves that it is indeed possible to take very high quality, high resolution images on ground-based telescopes even in the presence of significant atmospheric turbulence. Using the techniques that we developed combining Lucky imaging and adaptive optics we have even been able to take the highest resolution pictures in the visible ever taken by anybody anywhere.
Exploitation Route It has potential relevance to a variety of surveillance applications as well as providing key underpinning technologies for the design and construction of the next generation of optical and near infrared telescope structures
Sectors Security and Diplomacy,Other

URL http://www.luckyimaging.com
 
Description The findings of this research were key inputs into a following research grant ST/K002368/1. The provided the underpinning technology that allowed significant progress to be made towards obtaining higher resolution images in the visible on ground-based telescopes than have been possible so far on space-based telescopes. These technologies improve greatly the cost effectiveness of astronomical instrumentation.
First Year Of Impact 2010
Sector Other
 
Description Adaptive optics-lucky imaging (AOLI) collaboration 
Organisation Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands
Country Spain 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have done the lion share of the work to design build and deploy the instrument
Collaborator Contribution Relatively small: promised resources have not been made available due to funding cuts and internal management difficulties
Impact The instrument has been used on the William Herschel telescope in La Palma successfully.
Start Year 2010
 
Description Adaptive optics-lucky imaging (AOLI) collaboration 
Organisation Technical University of Cartagena
Country Spain 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have done the lion share of the work to design build and deploy the instrument
Collaborator Contribution Relatively small: promised resources have not been made available due to funding cuts and internal management difficulties
Impact The instrument has been used on the William Herschel telescope in La Palma successfully.
Start Year 2010