MMT Telescope

The MMT Telescope

Lasers Used for Adaptive Optics on the MMT Telescope

The MMT Telescope is located on the summit of Mt. Hopkins in Arizona. The MMT Natural Guide Star Adaptive Optics system (MMTAO) was the first AO system to use a deformable secondary mirror to correct optical distortions introduced by the earth's atmosphere. It is capable of producing diffraction-limited imaging from 10 microns to the near infrared. This is the approach that is being used on the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) on Mt. Graham. The MMT has been used to develop cutting edge adaptive optics systems. Current AO systems using a single laser beam are effective at correcting for optical distortions in the center of a narrow field of view. A system using multiple laser beams is currently being developed at the MMT facility which will allow correction of optical distortions across a wider view of view. Such a multiple laser beam AO system will be used on the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) that is currently under design and development. This image shows five laser beams being projected into the sky at the MMT Telescope, although the laser beams are so close together that they appear to be a single beam in this image.

This image was taken with a Canon EOS Digital Rebel SLR camera using an 18-55mm zoom lens. This was a spectacular sight to see in person.

May 21, 2006
Image by Sid Leach
Mt. Hopkins, Arizona

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