MagAO Commissioning Day 21: High Res Version

Things are always exciting here on the MagAO project. But nothing – not earthquakes, viscacha attacks, not even non-orthogonal basis sets – can keep us from doing what we came here to do. Now that we are on-sky, we are taking advantage of the *amazing* 0.5 arcsecond seeing common at LCO to take some nice pictures. Last night we were looking at the Trapezium cluster to calibrate our plate-scales, and we took a few moments to take this image:

MagAO/VisAO image of Theta 1 Ori-C, a 31 milli-arcsecond binary system. This is one of the highest resolution astronomical images ever taken. Click for even higer resolution!

We didn’t cheat – no shift and add or other tricks.

After we solved last night’s communication problems, we did some engineering work, specifically getting Coma-offloading to work. I hate rotation matrices. Later, seeing calmed down, and we took some fantastic images. Here’s a screen grab from VisAO working at 0.982 microns. It’s a log stretch, and captures a single 0.28 second frame on a bright star.

We haven't fully reduced this dataset yet so I don't have a Strehl ratio for you. Let's just call it really damn high for 1 micron, okay?

And here’s our M-band PSF from tonight:

M-band PSF

We tested turning off the Clio pump to reduce vibrations in the 25-milli-arc-second VisAO PSF.  But since the Clio folks were observing at M-band, a 0.5-degree increase in temperature of Clio’s inner dewar caused a 3% increase in their thermal background.  Therefore, we turned the pump back on again, and the sky background settled back down as the detector cooled.  Here’s a curve showing the effect on Clio of turning off and on the pump:

Temperature (Kelvin) vs. time (minutes) of the inner dewar and detector of Clio. At time 0 the pump was turned off, to try to remove vibrations from the VisAO PSF. 140 minutes later, the pump was turned back on, because Clio's M-band background had gone up by 3%. There is a little bit of an overshoot as it cools down, and then the heater comes on to stabilize the temperature at 55.0 K.

Runa Briguglio, who is here from Florence helping us take care of the shell, suggests that we operate by this guideline:

Our new guideline.

Some quotes:
“If I’m doing what I think I’m doing, I’m an idiot. Yes! I’m doing what I think I’m doing!” – Glenn Eychaner, who came up the mountain today just to help us debug our TCS-MagAO communications problem. Thanks Glenn!