Beamsplitter assists in stargazing

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Adaptive optics being integrated with the Gran Telescopio de Canarias (GTC) will feature a 180mm diameter dichroic beamsplitter to direct the infrared part of the spectrum to the science instrument and the visible light to the wavefront sensor.

The Gran Telescopio de Canarias is a 10.4 metre reflecting telescope with a segmented primary mirror. It is located at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, on the island of La Palma – one of the top astronomical sites in the northern hemisphere. The GTC is a Spanish initiative lead by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias.

Mireia Rosado Rubio, an optical engineer in the development group at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, said: 'The adaptive optics system is intended to provide diffraction limited images with the GTC in the H and K bands. This is achieved by correcting the wavefront distortions induced by atmospheric turbulence.

'A Shack-Hartmann type wavefront sensor measures the perturbations, and a corrective element (deformable mirror) applies the opposite of the perturbations measured in order to cancel the wavefront distortions.' The dichroic beamsplitter is manufactured and supplied by Optical Surfaces.