Abstract

The resolution of a telescope is traditionally limited by the size of its aperture and the associated diffraction limit. Increases in resolving power invariably require larger apertures. The dependence of resolution on a telescope size can be completely removed, however, by a technique referred to as remote masking. This technique involves the use of a small occulting object that is positioned to mask a portion of the target. The drop in total target intensity of the unresolved object corresponds directly to the brightness of the area being masked. Moving the mask in front of the target modulates the total observed intensity. The observer can thus create an image having a resolution comparable to the angular size of the mask. The concept was validated through a one-dimensional experiment, where two light sources were successfully resolved at an angular separation well below the diffraction limit of the telescope. The theoretical resolving power of a remotely masked telescope is limited only by the size of, and distance to, the occulting mask.

© 2009 Optical Society of America

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