Abstract

We present the results of a comparison made between standard charge-coupled devices (CCDs) and low-light-level (LLL) CCDs in the framework of pyramid wavefront sensing for astronomical adaptive optics (AO) systems on 8m class telescopes. This comparison is based on detailed end-to-end numerical simulations of the first-light AO system of the Large Binocular Telescope, a relevant example of a pyramid-based AO system. While the model used for simulating the standard CCD is the usual well-established one, mainly based on the consideration of Poisson photon noise and Gaussian readout noise (RON), the model used for the LLLCCD is not only made through the simplistic consideration of a subelectron equivalent RON, but also through the establishment of a gamma distribution. Moreover, an additional dark current component, also resulting from the peculiar architecture of LLLCCDs, is considered. The results obtained clearly show a gain of roughly 0.8 magnitude when considering K-band Strehl ratios ranging from 15% to 60%, at least in the particular case study chosen (Fried parameter characterizing the turbulent atmosphere above the telescope r0=15cm and low light levels).

© 2010 Optical Society of America

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