Asymmetries in adaptive optics point spread functions

Alexander Madurowicz, Bruce Macintosh, Jeffrey Chilcote, Marshall Perrin, Lisa Poyneer, Laurent Pueyo, Jean Baptiste Ruffio, Vanessa P. Bailey, Travis Barman, Joanna Bulger, Tara Cotten, Robert J. De Rosa, Rene Doyon, Gaspard Duchêne, Thomas M. Esposito, Michael P. Fitzgerald, Katherine B. Follette, Benjamin L. Gerard, Stephen J. Goodsell, James R. GrahamAlexandra Z. Greenbaum, Pascale Hibon, Li Wei Hung, Patrick Ingraham, Paul Kalas, Quinn Konopacky, Jérôme Maire, Franck Marchis, Mark S. Marley, Christian Marois, Stanimir Metchev, Maxwell A. Millar-Blanchaer, Eric L. Nielsen, Rebecca Oppenheimer, David Palmer, Jennifer Patience, Abhijith Rajan, Julien Rameau, Fredrik T. Rantakyrö, Dmitry Savransky, Anand Sivaramakrishnan, Inseok Song, Remi Soummer, Melissa Tallis, Sandrine Thomas, Jason J. Wang, Kimberly Ward-Duong, Schuyler Wolff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


An explanation for the origin of asymmetry along the preferential axis of the point spread function (PSF) of an AO system is developed. When phase errors from high-altitude turbulence scintillate due to Fresnel propagation, wavefront amplitude errors may be spatially offset from residual phase errors. These correlated errors appear as asymmetry in the image plane under the Fraunhofer condition. In an analytic model with an open-loop AO system, the strength of the asymmetry is calculated for a single mode of phase aberration, which generalizes to two dimensions under a Fourier decomposition of the complex illumination. Other parameters included are the spatial offset of the AO correction, which is the wind velocity in the frozen flow regime multiplied by the effective AO time delay and propagation distance or altitude of the turbulent layer. In this model, the asymmetry is strongest when the wind is slow and nearest to the coronagraphic mask when the turbulent layer is far away, such as when the telescope is pointing low toward the horizon. A great emphasis is made about the fact that the brighter asymmetric lobe of the PSF points in the opposite direction as the wind, which is consistent analytically with the clarification that the image plane electric field distribution is actually the inverse Fourier transform of the aperture plane. Validation of this understanding is made with observations taken from the Gemini Planet Imager, as well as being reproducible in end-to-end AO simulations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number049003
JournalJournal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments, and Systems
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019


  • Adaptive optics
  • Fresnel propagation
  • Point-spread functions
  • Scintillation
  • Turbulence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Instrumentation
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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