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Session 98 - Invited Talks: Adaptive Optics.
Invited session, Wednesday, January 17
1st Floor, La Villita Assembly Building

[98.02] Adaptive Optics development at the MMT: Exo-planets to Protogalaxies

R. Angel (Center for Astronomical Adaptive Optics, Steward Obs. U. Arizona)

The 6.5 m telescope to replace the MMT is now nearing completion, and in 1997 will be used with adaptive optics, both for imaging and spectroscopy of very faint objects in the near infrared (protogalaxies) and to image Jupiter-like planets of nearby stars. Observational, experimental and theoretical woek toward these goals by many investigators at the new Center for Astronomical Adaptive Optics will be reported.

For the infrared system, tests have been made at the present MMT a laser projector that produces a 1 arcsec sodium "star", bright enough for wavefront measurement. Under development is a unique deformable secondary mirror that will allow wavefront correction with no increase in thermal background. Wavefront tilt measurements, which require natural starlight, will be made in the H band. Here images sharpened by the laser system will allow the use of very faint field stars, and hence near full sky cover. The diffraction limited resolution obtained in the infrared will equal HST resolution in the optical.

The bright flux from nearby stars allows very accurate wavefront correction by adaptive optics, and hence very strong supression of the scattered light halo. Direct imaging should then have the sensitivity to see Jupiter-like exo-planets. A high speed, high resolution system for this purpose is planned for a full sky search from the new MMT and its twin in the Southern hemisphere, Magellan.

Program listing for Wednesday