Comparison of images with and without Adaptive Optics

Adaptive optics control the surfaces of a telescope’s optic – often the main mirror – to take into account the turbulence in the Earth’s atmosphere.

By doing this, the distortion caused by the “twinkling” we can even see when we look at stars with our eyes alone can be removed.

This image shows a comparison of the new image (top) of the western wall of the Carina Nebula taken by the international Gemini Observatory, a Program of NSF’s NOIRLab, and an image of the same region without Adaptive Optics (bottom). The top image was taken with the Gemini South telescope with the GSAOI instrument using the GeMS adaptive optics system, and the bottom image was taken at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory with the Víctor M. Blanco 4-meter Telescope using the NEWFIRM instrument.

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