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.

Related Articles


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 December 21, 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 December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Spokesman: 'NORAD Ready to Track Santa'

Spokesman: 'NORAD Ready to Track Santa'

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said that NORAD is ready to track Santa Claus as he delivers gifts next week. Speaking tongue-in-cheek, he said if Santa drops anything off his sleigh, "we've got destroyers out there to pick them up." (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA's Planet-Finding Kepler Mission Isn't Over After All

NASA's Planet-Finding Kepler Mission Isn't Over After All

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) More than a year after NASA declared the Kepler spacecraft broken beyond repair, scientists have figured out how to continue getting useful data. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) NASA's Curiosity rover detected methane on Mars and organic compounds on the surface, but it doesn't quite prove there was life ... yet. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Evidence of Life on Mars? NASA Rover Finds Methane, Organic Chemicals

Evidence of Life on Mars? NASA Rover Finds Methane, Organic Chemicals

Reuters - US Online Video (Dec. 16, 2014) NASA's Mars Curiosity rover finds methane in the Martian atmosphere and organic chemicals in the planet's soil, the latest hint that Mars was once suitable for microbial life. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

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