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Proceedings Paper

Diffraction-limited imaging using large ground-based telescopes
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Paper Abstract

It is generally thought that the resolution of large ground-based telescopes is limited by atmospheric turbulence rather than by diffraction from the telescope aperture. However, longer wavelengths are less affected by atmospheric turbulence than shorter wavelengths and, conversely, longer wavelengths are more affected by diffraction from the telescope aperture. An optimum wavelength exists where these two counteracting effects balance. At this wavelength, maximum (diffraction-limited) resolution is obtained. In night seeing conditions at typical telescope sites, the optimum wavelength is in the range 1-2.5 microns. For a 5-m telescope, it should be possible to obtain resolution of the order 0.05-0.15 arcsec routinely at these wavelengths. However, to facilitate such precise resolution the telescope must be diffraction-limited.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 July 1990
PDF: 15 pages
Proc. SPIE 1236, Advanced Technology Optical Telescopes IV, (1 July 1990); doi: 10.1117/12.34689
Show Author Affiliations
T. Stewart McKechnie, S-Systems Corp. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 1236:
Advanced Technology Optical Telescopes IV
Lawrence D. Barr, Editor(s)

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