Keck Observatory Donor Salon Talk: Correcting the Twinkle with Adaptive Optics, with Dr. Antonin Bouchez

Temperature and pressure variations in the Earth’s atmosphere cause stars to appear to twinkle, and the images formed by all telescopes to be slightly blurred. This is true even on Maunakea, which has some of the clearest and most stable atmospheric conditions on our planet. Since 1999, the Keck Observatory telescopes have used Adaptive Optics (AO) to correct this atmospheric twinkling and blurring, forming images with higher resolution than even space telescopes. AO systems use a thin deformable mirror ahead of the science instrument to cancel the distortions in the light caused by the atmosphere. The shape of this mirror must be adjusted hundreds of times per second to keep up with the changing atmosphere. The Keck AO systems have been continuously upgraded in the decades since, improving performance and adding new scientific capabilities. Dr. Bouchez will describe how these high-tech systems work, the amazing scientific discoveries they have enabled, and where the technology is headed next.

Guest Speaker

Dr. Antonin Bouchez

Head of Adaptive Optics Development
Keck Observatory

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