Adaptive optics sky coverage for dome C telescopes
The unique atmospheric characteristics found at Dome C on the Antarctic plateau offer significant advantages for the operation of adaptive optics systems. An analysis is presented here comparing the performance of adaptive optics systems on telescopes located at Dome C with similar systems located at a mid-latitude site. The large coherence length, wide isoplanatic angle, and long coherence time of the Dome C atmosphere allow an adaptive optics system located there to correct to high order, observe over wide fields and use faint guide stars, resulting in a lower total wavefront error and a significant increase in sky coverage factor than can be achieved at a typical mid-latitude site. While the same performance could in principle be achievable at mid-latitude sites, this would only occur under exceptionally stable atmospheric conditions that are likely to occur on only a few nights per year.
© 2008 The Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Received 2008 June 18; accepted 2008 September 03; published 2008 September 30. We thank Andrei Tokovinin from Cerro Tololo Inter- American Observatory for helpful input into developing the AO system model parameter space used for site-to-site comparison, and for comments on the manuscript. We thank the Australian Research Council for its support through the Discovery Projects and Linkage International schemes, and the EU for its support via the ARENA Coordination Action. We also thank our colleagues in Europe, the US, and Australia for helpful and stimulating discussions, and colleagues from the polar agencies AAD, IPEV, and PNRA for ongoing support and encouragement.
Published - LAWpasp08.pdf