Laser Guide Star

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A beacon to guide our eye through the turbulent layers of our atmosphere.

Illus. Alex Rommel © 2022 Universität Innsbruck

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Light carries precious information within its spectrum. Information that scientists want to capture and analyze. However, as this light traverses our dense atmosphere, it encounters numerous obstacles, distorting and bending its path, compromising the valuable data it holds. To overcome these challenges, scientists have devised an ingenious solution known as adaptive optics: By using adaptable mirrors, this technology can restore the distorted wavefronts of light to their original state, preserving the integrity of the information. But to calibrate these mirrors, a reference light source is needed. A star in the night sky can be such a reference, or we can make our own reference by creating an artificial star using laser light that excites atoms in the atmosphere. Laser guide stars are a cutting-edge technology that allows us to see beyond the turbulent atmosphere, unlocking the secrets of the cosmos hidden within the celestial light.

Illus. Alex Rommel © 2022 Universität Innsbruck

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