MagAO-X 2024Ab Day 10: “30+ years of speckle”

This week could have gone better: Delayed and missed flights, fog, clouds, bad seeing, and I got a head cold. New at LCO this trip: no Covid test on arrival. In case you’re wondering, I brought my own, and I don’t have Covid.

Last night, I turned the super fancy MagAO-X system with its three deformable mirrors into a very expensive speckle camera. 30 years ago, when AO was in its infancy, I did my PhD thesis taking short exposures to “freeze” the seeing and a lot of Fourier transforms to recover high spatial resolution images. Well, in 1.3″ seeing, MagAO-X could still do some correction (miraculously) and the EM-CCDs in MagAO-X can run fast (I ran at about 60 ms, which is considerably longer than the normal coherence time at visible wavelengths). I can play some of those old speckle imaging tricks on images like this:

60 ms image of a binary star
First try at an average image (zoomed)

See the binary star? Of course you do. I select the best of the tens of thousands of images I took and average them up. Combined with other data I have, these images will let us measure masses of the stars.

Tonight, however, the seeing is finally down to median LCO conditions and the forecasted clouds have not yet arrives, so MagAO-X is weeping tears of joy:

A saturated PSF with all those Airy rings!

I may be bummed about the weather, but it’s been fun to be back here and collaborating with the ever-growing team. People are working shifts, so we didn’t get a photo of everyone, but here’s an obligatory sunset selfie with clear skies above.

May 19 sunset selfie thanks to Logan.
MagAO-X womens’ team tonight.

And, dear reader, as a devoted blog follower you undoubtedly know that as predictably as the approach of winter brings clouds, Sunday brings:

Empanadas, of course.

I saw a fox today too, but sorry, I didn’t get a picture.

Today’s best 15 minutes were spent finishing the Sunday NYTimes Crossword Puzzle with the band of Js (Joseph, Jay, and Josh) as we froze speckles.

Pride in our accomplishment

Song of the Day

I almost went with Lady Sings the Blues, one of my favorites for bad observing weather combined with colds, but I don’t want to be a downer. So, I’m going with Freeze Tag by Suzanne Vega in honor of those fast images we took and the coming week’s temperature forecast.

The sun is fading fast
Upon the slides into the past