ELT-scale elongated LGS wavefront sensing: on-sky results

Lisa Bardou, É. Gendron, G. Rousset, D. Gratadour, Alastair Basden, Domenico Bonaccini Calia, T. Buey, Mauro Centrone, F. Chemla, Jean-Luc Gach, D. Geng, Zoltan Hubert, D. J. Laidlaw, Timothy J. Morris, R. M. Myers, James Osborn, A. P. Reeves, Matthew J. Townson, Fabrice Vidal

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Context. Laser guide stars (LGS) allow adaptive optics (AO) systems to reach greater sky coverage, especially for AO systems correcting the atmospheric turbulence on large fields of view. However LGS suffer from limitations, among which is their apparent elongation which can reach 20 arcsec when observed with large aperture telescopes such as the European Southern Observatory 39 m telescope. The consequences of this extreme elongation have been studied in simulations and laboratory experiments, although never on-sky, yet understanding and mitigating those effects is key to taking full advantage of the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) six LGS.

Aims. In this paper we study the impact of wavefront sensing with an ELT-scale elongated LGS using on-sky data obtained with the AO demonstrator CANARY on the William Herschel telescope (WHT) and the ESO Wendelstein LGS unit. CANARY simultaneously observed a natural guide star and a superimposed LGS launched from a telescope placed 40 m away from the WHT pupil.

Methods. Comparison of the wavefronts measured with each guide star allows the determination of an error breakdown of the elongated LGS wavefront sensing. With this error breakdown, we isolate the contribution of the LGS elongation and study its impact. We also investigate the effects of truncation or undersampling of the LGS spots.

Results. We successfully used the elongated LGS wavefront sensor (WFS) to drive the AO loop during on-sky operations, but it necessitated regular calibrations of the non-common path aberrations on the LGS WFS arm. In the off-line processing of the data collected on-sky we separate the error term encapsulating the impact of LGS elongation in a dynamic and quasi-static component. We measure errors varying from 0 nm to 160 nm rms for the dynamic error and we are able to link it to turbulence strength and spot elongation. The quasi-static errors are significant and vary between 20 nm and 200 nm rms depending on the conditions. They also increase by as much as 70 nm over the course of 10 m. We do not observe any impact when undersampling the spots with pixel scales as large as 1.95″, while the LGS spot full width half maximum varies from 1.7″ to 2.2″; however, significant errors appear when truncating the spots. These errors appear for fields of view smaller than 10.4″ to 15.6″, depending on the spots’ elongations. Translated to the ELT observing at zenith, elongations as long as 23.5″ must be accommodated, corresponding to a field of view of 16.3″ if the most elongated spots are put across the diagonal of the subaperture.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberA158
Number of pages19
JournalAstronomy & Astrophysics
Early online date3 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2021
Externally publishedYes

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