Adaptive Optics' Use in Astronomical Imaging

Astronomical imaging is the canonical application for adaptive optics (AO). We have provided AO systems for numerous government and astronomical initiatives for more than 30 years.

Astronomical Adaptive Optics

Laser Guide Star

Julius Feinleib, founder of AOA, was the inventor of the laser guide star, which uses a laser to create a beacon for astronomical adaptive optics. One of our first products was a turnkey laser guide star beam control system, which is one in a long series of astronomical imaging systems. Our hardware is used at SALT, SOAR, HET, GTC, KECK and KPNO observatories and in many laboratory experiments, including multi-conjugate AO demonstrators.

Aberrated Beam Analyzer

We provided the Aberrated Beam Analyzer (ABA) for NASA/GSFC, to measure the correctors for the Hubble Space Telescope. Its sensor uses off-the-shelf components and a commercial computer processor with software written in a high-level language for ease of use. At the time of deployment, ABA was proven to be the most accurate known adaptive optics measuring device of its kind, with repeatability exceeding one-thousandth of a wave.

Coarse Phase Sensor

We proposed the optical design for the Coarse Phase Sensor (CPS) of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which will be used as part of the telescope alignment system. The CPS is based on a patented combination of Hartmann wavefront sensing with dispersed fringe sensing to measure the phase differences between adjacent segments of the JWST primary mirror. We performed the optical and cryogenic testing of the CPS hardware.

JWST Artists Conception

JWST Artist's Conception


A coronagraph is a special astronomical imaging technique that separates the light emitted by a planet from nearby starlight. It is one method of performing exoplanet imaging and involves shaping the PSF of the imaging system using a high-density deformable mirror. AOA Xinetics developed precision deformable mirror technology for this task. It is based on modular actuator arrays that are scalable to thousands of actuator elements coupled to the surface of a thin mirror facesheet.