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Mechanism of Formation of Atmospheric Turbulence Relevant for Optical Astronomy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 August 2010

Remy Avila
Affiliation:
U.M.R. 6525 Astrophysique, Université de Nice-Sophia Antipolis -Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Pare Valrose, 06108 Nice Cedex 2, France
Jean Vernin
Affiliation:
U.M.R. 6525 Astrophysique, Université de Nice-Sophia Antipolis -Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Pare Valrose, 06108 Nice Cedex 2, France
Jose Franco
Affiliation:
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Alberto Carraminana
Affiliation:
Instituto Nacional de Astrofisica, Optica y Electronica, Tonantzintla, Mexico
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Summary

Astronomical images in the optical domain are severely degraded by refractive-index fluctuations generated by turbulence in the Earth's atmosphere. Here we briefly review the conditions for the onset of optical turbulence in the framework of the well known Tatarski's theory, and present a phenomenological description, derived from balloon-borne measurements, which shows that the optical turbulence appears in thin laminae that occur invariably in pairs. Such thin laminae imply that the outer scale of wave-front fluctuations is of the order of 10 meters, which has important consequences in adaptive optics and interferometry.

Introduction

Electromagnetic radiation from astronomical objects encounters different turbulent zones in its way to Earth-based telescopes. Interstellar turbulence, for instance, provokes phase fluctuations of radio waves which are exploited to study the interstellar medium, as presented by several authors in this volume. In the optical domain, wave perturbations occur in the Earth's atmosphere, due to turbulent fluctuations of the refractive-index of air (which is frequently referred to as optical turbulence). This has severe negative effects on astronomical observations as the commonly known “seeing” that strongly limits the achievable angular resolution (Roddier 1981). A number of high angular resolution techniques, like adaptive optics and interferometry, are being developed to overcome this limitation. They owe their good results yet obtained to the knowledge of the optical effects of atmospheric turbulence, and their optimization demands an increasingly high precision of that knowledge.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1999

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  • Mechanism of Formation of Atmospheric Turbulence Relevant for Optical Astronomy
    • By Remy Avila, U.M.R. 6525 Astrophysique, Université de Nice-Sophia Antipolis -Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Pare Valrose, 06108 Nice Cedex 2, France, Jean Vernin, U.M.R. 6525 Astrophysique, Université de Nice-Sophia Antipolis -Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Pare Valrose, 06108 Nice Cedex 2, France
  • Edited by Jose Franco, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Alberto Carraminana, Instituto Nacional de Astrofisica, Optica y Electronica, Tonantzintla, Mexico
  • Book: Interstellar Turbulence
  • Online publication: 04 August 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511564666.003
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  • Mechanism of Formation of Atmospheric Turbulence Relevant for Optical Astronomy
    • By Remy Avila, U.M.R. 6525 Astrophysique, Université de Nice-Sophia Antipolis -Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Pare Valrose, 06108 Nice Cedex 2, France, Jean Vernin, U.M.R. 6525 Astrophysique, Université de Nice-Sophia Antipolis -Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Pare Valrose, 06108 Nice Cedex 2, France
  • Edited by Jose Franco, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Alberto Carraminana, Instituto Nacional de Astrofisica, Optica y Electronica, Tonantzintla, Mexico
  • Book: Interstellar Turbulence
  • Online publication: 04 August 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511564666.003
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Mechanism of Formation of Atmospheric Turbulence Relevant for Optical Astronomy
    • By Remy Avila, U.M.R. 6525 Astrophysique, Université de Nice-Sophia Antipolis -Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Pare Valrose, 06108 Nice Cedex 2, France, Jean Vernin, U.M.R. 6525 Astrophysique, Université de Nice-Sophia Antipolis -Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Pare Valrose, 06108 Nice Cedex 2, France
  • Edited by Jose Franco, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Alberto Carraminana, Instituto Nacional de Astrofisica, Optica y Electronica, Tonantzintla, Mexico
  • Book: Interstellar Turbulence
  • Online publication: 04 August 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511564666.003
Available formats
×