Abstract

The Zernike phase contrast method is a novel technique to phase the primary mirrors of segmented telescopes. It has been tested on-sky on a unit telescope of the Very Large Telescope with a segmented mirror conjugated to the primary mirror to emulate a segmented telescope. The theoretical background of this sensor and the algorithm used to retrieve the piston, tip, and tilt information are described. The performance of the sensor as a function of parameters such as star magnitude, seeing, and integration time is discussed. The phasing accuracy has always been below 15nm root mean square wavefront error under normal conditions of operation and the limiting star magnitude achieved on-sky with this sensor is 15.7 in the red, which would be sufficient to phase segmented telescopes in closed-loop during observations.

© 2010 Optical Society of America

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