CAOSP abstracts, Volume: 43, No.: 3, year: 2014

Abstract: Large surveys, such as the Kepler mission and Palomar Transient Factory, are discovering upwards of thousands of objects which require further characterization at angular resolutions significantly finer than normally allowed by atmospheric seeing. The demands on precious space-based observatories (i.e. Hubble Space Telescope) and large telescopes with adaptive optics (AO) systems (i.e. Keck, VLT, Gemini) leave them generally unavailable for high angular resolution surveys of more than a few hundred targets at a time. To address the gap between scientific objects and available telescopes, we have developed Robo-AO, the first robotic laser AO system, as an economical and efficient imaging instrument for the more readily available 1-3 m class telescopes. The Robo-AO system system demonstrates angular resolutions approaching the visible diffraction limit of the Palomar 60-inch telescope. Observations of over 200 stellar objects per night have routinely been performed, with target-to-target observation overheads of less than 1.5 minutes. Scientific programs requiring high-resolution follow-up characterization of several thousands of targets can thus be executed in mere weeks, and Robo-AO has already completed the three largest AO surveys to date.

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Last update: April 17, 2014