Lucky Imaging

Institute of Astronomy:

The camera works by recording the images produced by an adaptive optics front-end at high speed (20 frames per second or more). Software then checks each one to pick the sharpest ones. Many are still quite significantly smeared but a good percentage are unaffected. These are combined to produce the image that astronomers want.

This is really quite cool, although I worry a bit about artifacts (is it automatically true that the “sharpest” images are the most accurate representations?). I’m also a little awed by the advances the system takes for granted: adaptive optics, CCD sensors big and efficient enough to capture useful number of photons in 50 milliseconds…

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