Adaptive Optics Revisited

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Science  20 Jul 1990:
Vol. 249, Issue 4966, pp. 253-257
DOI: 10.1126/science.249.4966.253


From the earliest days and nights of telescopic astronomy, atmospheric turbulence has been a serious detriment to optical performance. The new technology of adaptive optics can overcome this problem by compensating for the wavefront distortion that results from turbulence. The result will be large gains in resolving power and limiting magnitude, closely approaching the theoretical limit. In other words, telescopic images will be very significantly sharpened. Rapid and accelerating progress is being made today by several groups. Adaptive optics, together with the closely related technology of active optics, seems certain to be utilized in large astronomical telescopes of the future. This may entail significant changes in telescope design.

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