Getting Lucky with adaptive optics: Fast adaptive optics image selection in the visible with a large telescope

N. M. Law*, C. D. MacKay, R. G. Dekany, M. Ireland, J. P. Lloyd, A. M. Moore, J. G. Robertson, P. Tuthill, H. C. Woodruff

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Citations (Scopus)


We describe the results from a new instrument which combines Lucky Imaging and adaptive optics (AO) to give the first routine direct diffraction-limited imaging in the visible on a 5 m telescope. With fast image selection and alignment behind the PalomarAOsystem we obtained Strehl ratios of 5%-20% at 700 nm in a typical range of seeing conditions, with a median Strehl of approximately 12% when 10% of the input frames are selected. At wavelengths around 700 nm the system gave diffraction-limited 35 mas full width at half-maxima (FWHMs). At 950 nm the output Strehl ratio was as high as 36% and at 500 nm the FWHMresolution was as small as 42mas, with a low Strehl ratio but with resolution improved by a factor of ∼ 20 compared to the prevailing seeing. To obtain wider fields we also used multiple Lucky Imaging guide stars in a configuration similar to a ground layer AO system. With eight guide stars but very undersampled datawe obtained 300 mas resolution across a 30″×30″ field of viewin the i ′ band.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)924-930
Number of pages7
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Instrumentation: adaptive optics
  • Instrumentation: high angular resolution
  • Methods: data analysis
  • Techniques: high angular resolution
  • Techniques: image processing


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