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At High Resolution: The Crab Pulsar, Kinematics of ULIRGs, and Linear Quadratic Gaussian Control for Adaptive Optics

  • Author(s): Rudy, Alexander Raymond
  • Advisor(s): Max, Claire E
  • et al.

Adaptive Optics is a technique to correct for the aberrations introduced by the Earth’s atmosphere in telescope images and spectroscopy. This work covers three projects which are facilitated by adaptive optics. Adaptive optics (AO) enables high resolution imaging from the ground, which we used to explore the origins of γ-ray flares from the Crab Nebula. These flares represent some of the brightest transient events ever observed. Using AO, we were able to identify features of the Crab Nebula which appear to correlate with the large γ-ray flares. We searched for the presence and mechanisms behind high veloc- ity molecular outflows from 10 nearby gas-rich galaxies. These galaxies were a subset of galaxies found to have evidence of high velocity outflows in spatially un-resolved spectra of the OH 119μm absorption line observed by the Herschel Space Telescope. We were able to identify spatially resolved outflows in only 3 of the 10 galaxies observed, and found that 3 additional galaxies had such extreme velocity rotation curves that no outflow was required to explain the spatially un-resolved observations that motivated the original study. Finally, this work develops and implements a novel algorithm for control of adaptive optics systems. Using the fact that the dynamism of atmospheric turbulence is driven by the flow of wind across the telescope pupil, we developed a predic- tive control algorithm using linear-quadratic gaussian control. We were able to demonstrate stable linear quadratic gaussian control on sky with the ShaneAO adaptive optics system at Lick Observatory.

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