Next-Generation Adaptive Optics Brings Remarkable Details To Light In Stellar Nursery

Gemini Observatory Press/Image Release

Researchers Peter Pessev & Benoit Neichel of the Gemini Observatory, La Serena, Chile claimed they had the best New Year’s Celebrations possible when they obtained this incredibly detailed data from the observatory’s adaptive optics (AO) system. The photo shown here features an area on the outskirts of the well known Orion Nebula and show cases the instrument’s very significant technological advances over the previous generation of AO instruments.

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Gemini South presnts us with a view of a portion of the Orion nebula as never seen before. Image Credit: Gemini Observatory/AURA

The system combines the use of five laser guide stars with multiple deformable mirrors enabling it to go far beyond what has previously been possible using adaptive optics in astronomy,  Benoit Neichel, currently leading the AO program for Gemini, says that years of dedicated work have gone into the project culminating in this magnificent image. This image, he claims, is only a glimpse of the system’s enormous scientific potential. The Gemini Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics System (GeMS) is installed on the Gemini South telescope in Chile. This is the most advanced adaptive optics system available and will enable astronomers to study the universe with an unprecedented level of clarity and detail by removing distortions due to the Earth’s atmosphere.