Abstract

The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) has been designed to include an adaptive optics system and associated laser guide star (LGS) facility to correct for the image distortion due to Earth’s atmospheric turbulence and achieve diffraction-limited imaging. We have calculated the response of mesospheric sodium atoms to a pulsed laser that has been proposed for use in the LGS facility, including modeling of the atomic physics, the light–atom interactions, and the effect of the geomagnetic field and atomic collisions. This particular pulsed-laser format is shown to provide comparable photon return to a continuous-wave (cw) laser of the same average power; both the cw and pulsed lasers have the potential to satisfy the TMT design requirements for photon return flux.

© 2012 Optical Society of America

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