We study the so-called three-dimensional mapping of turbulence, a method solving the cone effect (or focus anisoplanatism) by using multiple laser guide stars (LGSs). This method also permits a widening of the corrected field of view much beyond the isoplanatic field. Multiple deformable mirrors, conjugated to planes at chosen altitudes among the turbulent layers, are used to correct in real time the wave fronts measured from the LGSs. We construct an interaction matrix describing the multiconjugate adaptive optics system and analyze the eigenmodes of the system. We show that the global tilt mode is singular because it cannot be localized in altitude, so that it must be corrected only once at any altitude. Furthermore, when the tilt from the LGS cannot be measured, the singularity of the global tilt yields the delocalization of particular forms of defocus and astigmatism. This imposes the use of a single natural guide star located anywhere in the corrected field to measure these modes. We show as an example that the cone effect can be corrected with a Strehl of 0.8 with four LGSs (tilt ignored) on an 8-m telescope in the visible when a single laser star provides a Strehl of 0.1. The maximum field of view of 100 arc sec in diameter can be reconstructed with an on-axis Strehl ratio of 30%. We also show that the measurement of the height of the layers can be done with current techniques and that additional layers, not accounted for, do not significantly degrade the performance in the configuration that we model.
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