Adaptive Optics Observations of the Sun


Modern solar observations are performed close to the diffraction limit of the existing solar telescopes since important, fundamental processes on the Sun occur on scales of a tenth of an arc-second and smaller. Spatial resolution is therefore paramount in solar observations. Even though solar telescopes have relatively small apertures as compared to modern night-time telescopes, their spatial resolution is still limited by seeing, which is worse during the day as compared to at night. Adaptive optics has thus become an important addition to almost all large solar telescopes. While the first solar adaptive optics system was among the first to be used at astronomical telescopes, only in the past few years have such systems become available for regular science use. Publications of solar science obtained with adaptive optics are therefore still rare, but their number is rapidly increasing. Here I discuss the existing solar adaptive optics systems and summarize some of the science they have produced to date.

Science with Adaptive Optics