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Measuring and Correcting the Effects of Scintillation in Astronomy

HARTLEY, KATHRYN,ELIZABETH (2024) Measuring and Correcting the Effects of Scintillation in Astronomy. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



High-precision ground-based time-resolved photometry is significantly limited by the effects of the Earth's atmosphere. Optical atmospheric turbulence, produced by the mixing of layers of air of different temperatures, results in layers of spatially and temporally varying refractive indices. These result in phase aberrations of the star light which have two effects: firstly the point spread function is broadened, thus limiting the resolution, and secondly the propagation of these aberrations results in spatio-temporal intensity fluctuations in the pupil-plane of the telescope known as scintillation. The first effect can be corrected with adaptive optics, however the scintillation noise remains.

In this thesis, the results from testing a scintillation correction technique that uses tomographic wavefront sensing are presented. The technique was explored extensively in simulation before being tested on-sky on the Isaac Newton Telescope in La Palma, Spain.

Scintillation noise also limits the signal-to-noise ratio that can be achieved for standard differential photometry as the random noise fluctuations in the comparison star and the target star light curves add in quadrature. A differential photometry technique that uses optimised temporal binning of the comparison star to minimise the addition of random noise fluctuations is presented and tested both in simulation and with on-sky data.

Finally, an investigation into the use of sparse arrays of small telescopes to reduce scintillation noise in photometry is presented. The impact of several parameters on the correlation of scintillation noise measured between sub-apertures in the array is explored.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Scintillation; Photometry; Astronomy; Atmospheric Turbulence
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Science > Physics, Department of
Thesis Date:2024
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:08 Jan 2024 11:26

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