Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Improved telescope sees through atmosphere with pinpoint sharpness

Date:
June 28, 2010
Source:
Eindhoven University of Technology
Summary:
A sharp view of the starry sky is difficult, because the atmosphere constantly distorts the image. A Dutch researcher has developed a new type of telescope mirror, which quickly corrects the image. His prototypes are required for future large telescopes, but also gives old telescopes a sharper view.

The prototype of Hamelinck's mirror system, in one of its assembly steps.
Credit: Roger Hamelinck

A sharp view of the starry sky is difficult, because the atmosphere constantly distorts the image. TU/e researcher Roger Hamelinck developed a new type of telescope mirror, which quickly corrects the image. His prototypes are required for future large telescopes, but also gives old telescopes a sharper view.

The atmosphere contains 'bubbles' of hot and cold air, each with their own refractive index, which distort the image. As a result, the light reaching ground-based telescopes is distorted. Hamelinck's system tackles this problem with a deformable mirror in the telescope. Under this ultrathin mirror there are actuators, which can wherever necessary quickly create bumps and dimples in the mirror. These bumps and dimples correct the continuously changing distortion created in the atmosphere. This is of crucial importance to the new generation of large telescopes in particular. Hamelinck: "In principle, larger telescopes also have a higher resolution, but attaining an optimal optical quality is hampered by the atmosphere. Therefore you absolutely need these corrections."

The principle of the 'adaptive deformable mirror' has been known some fifty odd years, but was limited especially by the technology. Thus, the actuators of earlier systems generated much heat, which caused the systems themselves to become a source of distortion. "Contrary to the old systems, this new system has an ultrathin mirror, so that very little power is needed for its deformation ," Hamelinck explains. "In combination with the efficient, electromagnetic reluctance actuators, this reduces the heat generation of the system to a very low level. Thanks to this, no active cooling is required." Hamelinck's working prototype has a five-centimeter diameter. Given that the design is scalable and expandable with modules, the system is suited for very large telescopes, such as the future 42-meter-big E-ELT (European Extra Large Telescope). The E-ELT is fitted inter alia with an adaptive mirror of 2.4 meters.

Research institute TNO is so enthusiastic about Hamelinck's work, that the institute is going to market it. Not only so for new telescopes, but also for existing ones. "It can be built into any telescope in the world," says Ben Braam, business developer Space & Science of TNO. "When you turn on the system, the image is suddenly enhanced. As if it is putting on new spectacles at long last." Affordable spectacles, in Braam's opinion. "I'm thinking in terms of fifty to one hundred thousand euro. Which is relatively cheap for that world."

Admittedly, the system does not correct for everything. Clouds continue to be a problem, for example. Consequently the best places for telescopes are still locations where one can enjoy a clear, cloudless sky most of the time. That would exclude the Netherlands, then.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Eindhoven University of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Eindhoven University of Technology. "Improved telescope sees through atmosphere with pinpoint sharpness." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 June 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100624091749.htm>.
Eindhoven University of Technology. (2010, June 28). Improved telescope sees through atmosphere with pinpoint sharpness. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100624091749.htm
Eindhoven University of Technology. "Improved telescope sees through atmosphere with pinpoint sharpness." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100624091749.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

East Coast Treated To Rare Meteor Sighting

East Coast Treated To Rare Meteor Sighting

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) — Numerous residents along the East Coast reported seeing a bright meteor flash through the sky Sunday night. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 16, 2014) — Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' startup will team up with Boeing and Lockheed to develop rocket engines as Elon Musk races to have his rockets certified. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA’s Curiosity Rover Finally Reaches Long-Term Goal

NASA’s Curiosity Rover Finally Reaches Long-Term Goal

Newsy (Sep. 15, 2014) — After more than two years, NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover reached Mount Sharp, its long-term destination. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
SpaceX's Elon Musk Really Wants To Colonize Mars

SpaceX's Elon Musk Really Wants To Colonize Mars

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) — Elon Musk has been talking about his goal of colonizing Mars for years now, but how much of it does he actually have figured out, and is it possible? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

      Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:  

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile iPhone Android Web
      Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins