Abstract

The end-to-end performance achieved by an adaptive optical (AO) imaging system is determined by a combination of the residual time-varying phase distortions associated with atmospheric turbulence and the quasi-static unsensed and uncorrectable aberrations in the optical system itself. Although the effects of these two errors on the time-averaged Strehl ratio and the time-averaged optical transfer function (OTF) of the AO system are not formally separable, such an approximation is found to be accurate to within a few percent for a range of representative residual wave-front errors. In these calculations, we combined static optical system aberrations and time-varying residual phase distortion characteristics of a deformable mirror fitting error, wave-front sensor noise, and anisoplanatism. The static aberrations consist of focus errors of varying magnitudes as well as a combination of unsensed and uncorrectable mirror figure errors derived from modeling by the Gemini 8-Meter Telescopes Project. The overall Strehl ratios and OTF’s that are due to the combined effect of these error sources are well approximated as products of separate factors for the static and time-varying aberrations, as long as the overall Strehl ratio that is due to both errors is greater than approximately 0.1. For lower Strehl ratios, the products provide lower bounds on the actual values of the Strehl ratio and the OTF. The speckle transfer function is also well approximated by a product of two functions, but only where AO compensation is sufficiently good that speckle imaging techniques are usually not required.

© 1999 Optical Society of America

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