High Resolution Astrophysical Observations Using Speckle Imaging
Final rept. 1 Jan 1981-31 Dec 1985
SMITHSONIAN ASTROPHYSICAL OBSERVATORY CAMBRIDGE MA
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This report describes progress under a contract to develop a complete astronomical speckle image reconstruction facility and to apply that facility to the solution of astronomical problems. During the course of the contract we have developed the procedures, algorithms, theory and hardware required to perform that function and have made and interpreted astronomical observations of substantial significance. A principal result of the program was development of a photon-counting camera of innovative design, the PAPA detector. Development of this device was, in our view, essential to making the speckle process into a useful astronomical tool, since the principal impediment to that circumstance in the past was the necessity for application of photon noise compensation procedures which were difficult if not impossible to calibrate. The photon camera made this procedure unnecessary and permitted precision image recovery. The result of this effort and the associated algorithm development was an active program of astronomical observation which included investigations into young stellar objects, supergiant structure and measurements of the helium abundance of the early universe. We have also continued research on recovery of high angular resolution images of the solar surface working with scientists at the Sacramento Peak Observatory in this area.