26 July 2016 Solar adaptive optics: specificities, lessons learned, and open alternatives
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Abstract
First on sky adaptive optics experiments were performed on the Dunn Solar Telescope on 1979, with a shearing interferometer and limited success. Those early solar adaptive optics efforts forced to custom-develop many components, such as Deformable Mirrors and WaveFront Sensors, which were not available at that time. Later on, the development of the correlation Shack-Hartmann marked a breakthrough in solar adaptive optics. Since then, successful Single Conjugate Adaptive Optics instruments have been developed for many solar telescopes, i.e. the National Solar Observatory, the Vacuum Tower Telescope and the Swedish Solar Telescope. Success with the Multi Conjugate Adaptive Optics systems for GREGOR and the New Solar Telescope has proved to be more difficult to attain. Such systems have a complexity not only related to the number of degrees of freedom, but also related to the specificities of the Sun, used as reference, and the sensing method. The wavefront sensing is performed using correlations on images with a field of view of 10", averaging wavefront information from different sky directions, affecting the sensing and sampling of high altitude turbulence. Also due to the low elevation at which solar observations are performed we have to include generalized fitting error and anisoplanatism, as described by Ragazzoni and Rigaut, as non-negligible error sources in the Multi Conjugate Adaptive Optics error budget. For the development of the next generation Multi Conjugate Adaptive Optics systems for the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope and the European Solar Telescope we still need to study and understand these issues, to predict realistically the quality of the achievable reconstruction. To improve their designs other open issues have to be assessed, i.e. possible alternative sensing methods to avoid the intrinsic anisoplanatism of the wide field correlation Shack-Hartmann, new parameters to estimate the performance of an adaptive optics solar system, alternatives to the Strehl and the Point Spread Function used in night time adaptive optics but not really suitable to the solar systems, and new control strategies more complex than the ones used in nowadays solar Multi Conjugate Adaptive Optics systems. In this paper we summarize the lessons learned with past and current solar adaptive optics systems and focus on the discussion on the new alternatives to solve present open issues limiting their performance.
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I. Montilla, I. Montilla, J. Marino, J. Marino, A. Asensio Ramos, A. Asensio Ramos, M. Collados, M. Collados, L. Montoya, L. Montoya, M. Tallon, M. Tallon, } "Solar adaptive optics: specificities, lessons learned, and open alternatives", Proc. SPIE 9909, Adaptive Optics Systems V, 99091H (26 July 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2233652; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2233652
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