The laboratory test bench HeNOS is a scaled down version of TMTs first light MCAO instrument NFIRAOS, it is designed to mimic the behavior within the limits of a lab. Its purpose is the verification of the performance predicted through simulations and the demonstration of calibration procedures. The MCAO correction includes LGS effects like spot elongation, tip/tilt uncertainty and sodium layer variations. Tests contain turbulent layer identification with SLODAR, tomographic NCPA correction, matched filter updates, a Pyramid Truth WFS and PSF reconstruction. We discuss the recent advances on the tests and the impact of the results on the control of NFIRAOS.
We overview the current status of photometric analyses of images collected with Multi Conjugate Adaptive Optics (MCAO) at 8–10m class telescopes that operated, or are operating, on sky. Particular attention will be payed to resolved stellar population studies. Stars in crowded stellar systems, such as globular clusters or in nearby galaxies, are ideal test-particles to test AO performance. We will focus the discussion on photometric precision and accuracy reached nowadays. We briefly describe our project on stellar photometry and astrometry of Galactic globular clusters using images taken with GeMS at the Gemini South telescope. We also present the photometry performed with DAOPHOT suite of programs into the crowded regions of these globulars reaching very faint limiting magnitudes Ks ∼21.5 mag on moderately large fields of view (∼1.5 arcmin squared). We highlight the need for new algorithms to improve the modeling of the complex variation of the Point Spread Function (PSF) across the field of view. Finally, we outline the role that large samples of stellar standards plays in providing a detailed description of the MCAO performance and in precise and accurate colour-magnitude diagrams.
GeMS is the multi-conjugate adaptive optics instrument at the Gemini South telescope in Chile, the first facility-class MCAO system and the first to use laser guide stars. During its science verification period we have observed the Galactic globular cluster NGC 1851 and here we discuss the optimization of the analysis techniques that we adopt to extract science-ready photometric measurements. We use the large number of stars in the field of view to determine with high accuracy the PSF model for the profile fitting photometry. Understanding the correct techniques not only has proven useful with GeMS data but will be valuable on the next generation of Extremely Large Telescopes, where MCAO will be a central technology.
With the aim of paving the road for future accurate astrometry with MICADO at the European-ELT, we performed an astrometric study using two different but complementary approaches to investigate two critical components that contribute to the total astrometric accuracy. First, we tested the predicted improvement in the astrometric measurements with the use of an atmospheric dispersion corrector (ADC) by simulating realistic images of a crowded Galactic globular cluster. We found that the positional measurement accuracy should be improved by up to ∼ 2 mas with the ADC, making this component fundamental for high-precision astrometry. Second, we analysed observations of a globular cluster taken with the only currently available Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics assisted camera, GeMS/GSAOI at Gemini South. Making use of previously measured proper motions of stars in the field of view, we were able to model the distortions affecting the stellar positions. We found that they can be as large as ∼ 200 mas, and that our best model corrects them to an accuracy of ∼ 1 mas. We conclude that future astrometric studies with MICADO requires both an ADC and an accurate modelling of distortions to the field of view, either through an a-priori calibration or an a-posteriori correction.
At NRC Herzberg - Astronomy we are developing a closed-loop multi-conjugate adaptive optics bench to simulate a scaled-down version of NFIRAOS, the first light MCAO system on the Thirty Meter Telescope. The current bench consists of four laser guide stars, an evenly spaced array of natural guide stars, two magnetic deformable mirrors, a Shack-Hartmann wavefront sensor and a science camera at the focal plane for the evaluation of the performance and the tip-tilt measurements. Three phase screens conjugated at different altitudes simulate the atmospheric perturbation over the telescope. We can recreate the spot elongation on the SHWFS by defocusing the ground DM and at the same time modulating the intensity of the LGS spots in order to simulate the timevarying density profile of the sodium layer.
The goals of this experiment are to compare the experimental performance on the bench with the predicted results of NFIRAOS models and to test the robustness of the tomographic reconstruction under conditions including the use of faint guide stars, non-uniform density profiles of the sodium layer and known non-common path aberrations. In this paper we present an update on the status of the bench and some first results.
Multi-conjugate adaptive optics can achieve diffraction limited images over a field of arcminutes and is a central technology for the future ELTs: Gemini/GeMS is the first facility-class LGS MCAO system to operate. With it we have taken images in J and Ks bands of the globular cluster NGC 1851 for which we also have HST/ACS observations in the visible. In this paper we present the deepest to date near-infrared photometry of NGC 1851 providing a wide colour baseline CMD that reaches the lower main sequence to have a new insight into the stellar populations of this globular cluster. The use of the GGCs' lower main sequence knee to determine its age is one of the science drivers for the observation of GGCs with MCAO given its visibility in the infrared and because it requires high Strehl ratios to measure the faint stars' photometry. In addition to the stellar population analysis, these data allow to examine the photometric performance of the instrument using a large number of point sources distributed across the field.
We analyze the photometric performance of the instrument and the field dependence of the PSF, a central part on the prediction and improvement of the performance of future LGS MCAO systems like NFIRAOS for the Thirty Meter Telescope.