The paper described is the third part of a trilogy dealing with the principles, performance, and limitations of what the author named “telescope–interferometers” (TIs). The basic idea consists in transforming one telescope into a wavefront error (WFE) sensing device. This can be achieved in two different ways, namely, off-axis and phase-shifting TIs. In both cases the point-spread function measured in the focal plane of the telescope carries information about the transmitted WFE, which is retrieved by fast and simple algorithms suitable to an adaptive optics (AO) regime. The uncertainties of both types of TIs are evaluated in terms of noise and systematic errors. Numerical models are developed to establish the dependence of driving parameters such as useful spectral range, angular size of the observed star, or detector noise on the total WFE measurement error. The latter is found particularly sensitive to photon noise, which rapidly governs the achieved accuracy for telescope diameters higher than . A few practical examples are studied, showing that the TI method is applicable to AO systems for telescope diameters ranging from , depending on seeing conditions and magnitude of the observed stars. Also discussed is the case of a space-borne coronagraph, where the TI technique provides high sampling of the input WFE map.
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