Abstract

The observed motion of stellar-image centroids is shown to have a chaotic attractor with a correlation dimension of ~6. The existence of a chaotic attractor in star wander, or equivalently in wave-front tilts, indicates that the atmospheric processes that cause image degradation may be more accurately described as chaotic, not so random as is usually assumed. This new result has important implications for the accurate modeling of atmospheric processes, the operation of adaptive optics systems, and the processing of stellar images.

© 1991 Optical Society of America

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