Adaptive Optics

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Science  21 Apr 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5465, pp. 455-456
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5465.455

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The development and launch of space telescopes has led to vast increases in image sharpness. However, image resolution of ground-based telescopes can rival that of space telescopes if so-called atmospheric blurring is removed. This blurring arises because wave crests from an astronomical object are distorted by variations in atmospheric density. In this Techview, Angel and Fugate outline recent advances in adaptive optics, which uses mirrors that quickly bend to restore the waves to their original form. Thanks to this technology, the ground-based telescope looks set to continue to play a major role in astronomy.