Instruments for the World’s largest Telescope

contributed by Roland Wagner, RICAM

Illustration of the MICADO instrument (credit: MICADO Consortium/ESO)

Illustration of the MICADO instrument (credit: MICADO Consortium/ESO)

The practical needs for algorithms and software developed within the projects of the Austrian Adaptive Optics Team (AAO-Team) at the Industrial mathematics Institute at JKU Linz and at RICAM arise from the construction of the World’s largest telescope, the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT). The ELT will be equipped with several so-called instruments, having different scientific goals and different operating wavelengths. Therefore, each instrument needs specific algorithms tailored to its particular needs as imperfections within the correction for atmospheric turbulence and the optical components change with the wavelength. The correction for atmospheric turbulence is performed by Adaptive Optics (AO) systems which translate measurements of the aberrations of the incoming light waves into deformations of a thin mirror in almost real time.

The AAO- Team is involved in two of the ELT-instruments: METIS and MICADO. Hearing these two words, one might think of Greek mythology and the pick-up-sticks game, but in fact these highly technical instruments will help to discover exoplanets. The tasks covered by the AAO-Team contain the development of control algorithm for the AO systems of METIS and post-processing of the acquired data in order to reconstruct the point spread function, which describes the effect of blurring in the observed images. The current work will continue within the SFB “Tomography across the scales”.