UnISIS: Laser guide star and natural guide star adaptive optics system

Laird A. Thompson, Scott W. Teare, Yao Heng Xiong, Richard M. Castle, Abhijit Chakraborty, Robert A. Gruendl, Robert W. Leach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


UnISIS (University of Illinois Seeing Improvement System) is a versatile adaptive optics system mounted on a large optics bench at the coudé focus of the Mount Wilson 2.5-m telescope. It was designed to have both laser guide star (LGS) and natural guide star (NGS) adaptive optics capabilities. The LGS side of the system relies on a pulsed UV laser with raw power of 30Wcapable of creating an artificial laser star via Rayleigh scattering 18 km above the telescope. The LGS system can work at temporal response rates as high as 333 Hz-limited by the UV laser pulse rate-and the NGS system can work at rates up to 1.4 kHz. Each side of the system has its own highspeed wavefront sensor that runs separately, but in the LGS mode the NGS wavefront sensor is converted into a natural star tip-tilt sensor. The deformable mirror is conjugate to the telescope's primary mirror and has one of the most densely packed sets of actuators of any adaptive optics system currently in operation. This paper provides details of the UnISIS design and describes key updates we have made to the system. We show NGS AO-corrected images from the sky from the 900 nm z-band through the 2.12 μmK s band. The highest NGS Strehl achieved to date is 0.67 at K s band.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)498-511
Number of pages14
JournalPublications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
Issue number879
StatePublished - May 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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