Upgrading the MMT AO system with a near-infrared pyramid wavefront sensor

Siqi Liu, Suresh Sivanandam, Shaojie Chen, Masen Lamb, Adam Butko, Jean Pierre Veran, Phil Hinz, Etsuko Mieda, Tim Hardy, Olivier Lardiere, Eric Shore

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

2 Scopus citations


There are long existing limitations of the sky coverage of astronomical Adaptive Optics (AO) systems that use natural guide stars (NGSs) as reference sources. In this work, we present numerical simulations and lab test results of an optical NGS pyramid wavefront sensor (PWFS) for the MMT AO system. The potential increase of sky coverage benefits from the gain in sensitivity of the PWFS in a closed-loop NIR AO system compared with the optical Shack-Hartmann wavefront sensor (SHWFS). The upgraded MMT AO WFS system will use IR avalanche photodiode (APD) array with extremely low readout noise (at sub-electron level), run at a high frame rate (over 1kHz), and cover the wavelength range from 0.85-1.8 μm. This upgraded system will access a larger portion of the sky by looking at fainter, redder reference stars. We use "yao" simulation to show the expected limiting magnitude gain of NIR PWFS compared with the existing optical SHWFS. The sky coverage will increase by 11 times at the Galactic plane and by 6 times at the North Galactic Pole when compared to traditional optical WFSs. This novel WFS will also enable observations of the dust obscured plane of the Galaxy, where the optical light of most stars is more extincted. We demonstrate the basic lab test with a set of double roof prisms. We evaluate the overall performance of the PWFS on our lab AO bench, present captured micro-pupil images and do wavefront reconstruction. We will upgrade to SAPHIRA and pyramid prism for later lab test. We plan to implement this system at MMT and carry out on-sky tests in Spring 2019.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdaptive Optics Systems VI
EditorsDirk Schmidt, Laura Schreiber, Laird M. Close
ISBN (Print)9781510619593
StatePublished - 2018
EventAdaptive Optics Systems VI 2018 - Austin, United States
Duration: Jun 10 2018Jun 15 2018

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X
ISSN (Electronic)1996-756X


OtherAdaptive Optics Systems VI 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • Adaptive Optics
  • Wavefront Sensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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