Atmospheric turbulence in the internal light path of a telescope produces noncommon path phase differences that degrade the image quality of adaptive-optics systems employing laser guide stars. The spatial covariance and rms wavefront errors produced by this effect are derived. It is found that the tilt-removed wavefront error ranges from about for a representative telescope to for a telescope of similar optical design. For adaptive-optics systems that aim to derive tip-tilt information from the laser guide stars the error is considerably larger, ranging from for the telescope to for the telescope. This effect can be a significant impediment to the performance of such systems.
© 2006 Optical Society of America
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