IMAGE. Artist’s rendering shows ELT in operation on Cerro Armazones, northern Chile. The telescope is shown using lasers to create artificial stars high in the atmosphere. The first stone ceremony for the telescope was 26 May 2017. (Credit: ESO/L. Calçada)
The European Southern Observatory (ESO) has signed a new agreement with Toptica Photonics (Munich, Germany) for the production of lasers to be used in ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) adaptive optics system. Toptica, in partnership with MPB Communications (Pointe-Claire, QC, Canada), will build at least four laser sources for the ELT, helping the telescope to achieve unprecedented spatial resolution for an optical/infrared ground-based telescope. The ELT is scheduled to see first light in 2024.
The laser system for the adaptive optics system on the ELT will be based on the Four Laser Guide Star Facility (4LGSF) on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT). The Adaptive Optics Facility, which uses the 4LGSF, has already shown spectacular improvement in image sharpness on the VLT. The Toptica/MPBC Guidestar Alliance was the main contractor for the laser system on the VLT.
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Toptica is responsible for the laser system engineering and contributes its diode and frequency-conversion technology. The work will be executed by Toptica Projects, which focuses on specialized laser systems such as laser guide stars. The construction of the high-powered Raman fiber amplifiers and fiber laser pump modules will be performed by MPB Communications. The ELT is designed to potentially have up to eight laser guide star systems in future.