"The new Narrow Field Mode using laser tomography corrects for nearly all of the atmospheric turbulence above the telescope to create much sharper images, but over a smaller region of the sky".
The image on the left is from MUSE in Wide Field Mode, without the adaptive optics system in operation and the centre panel is an enlargement of a small part of this view. Then, the blur on the laser is used to inform the computer-controlled mirror, which corrects for the atmosphere effects.
The new method results in sharper and more detailed images. The telescope has achieved first light using the new optics mode and the difference in image sharpness is stunning compared to before images.More news: Rory hits back at Butch - I'm no robot
The newly released photo of Neptune demonstrates the telescope's greater capabilities, showing that it is now possible to capture images from the ground at visible wavelengths that are sharper than those taken by Hubble, a telescope that orbits the earth. Thanks to this 8-meter telescope VLT has reached the theoretical limit definition.
With this approach, astronomers were able to bypass the biggest downside of Earth-based telescopes - dealing with the atmospheric disturbances and noise.More news: Jet Airways places order for 75 additional 737 Max aircraft from Boeing
The Earth's atmosphere can distort the appearance of objects in space, blurring distant objects and causing stars to twinkle.
Shooting in wide-field mode, MUSE and GALACSI can overcome the effects of atmospheric turbulence occurring up to a kilometre (0.62 miles) above the VLT. Light from stars and galaxies becomes distorted as it passes through our atmosphere, and astronomers must use clever technology to improve image quality artificially. Adaptive optics systems consists of three main components: a wave front corrector to compensate for the distortion, a wave front sensor to measure distortion, and a control system to calculate the required correction and necessary shape to apply to the corrector.
This will be followed in a few years by the powerful new instrument ERIS.More news: Next year's Ashes series will begin at Edgbaston - England's fortress
The new GALASCI system utilizes four 12-inch-wide lasers in a set constellation as "guide stars" to calibrate the photographic tracking, no longer needing to track proximate stars to target heavenly bodies desired for image capture. These results on UT4 with the AOF will help to bring ELT's engineers and scientists closer to implementing similar adaptive optics technology on the 39-metre giant.