The Durham/ESO SLODAR optical turbulence profiler

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Abstract

An instrument for monitoring of the vertical profile of atmospheric optical turbulence strength, employing the Slope Detection and Ranging (SLODAR) double star technique applied to a small telescope, has been developed by Durham University and the European South Observa-tory. The system has been deployed at the Cerro Paranal observatory in Chile for statistical characterization of the site. The instrument is configured to sample the turbulence at altitudes below 1.5 km with a vertical resolution of approximately 170 m. The system also functions as a general-purpose seeing monitor, measuring the integrated optical turbulence strength for the whole atmosphere, and hence the seeing width. We give technical details of the proto-type and present data to characterize its performance. Comparisons with contemporaneous measurements from a differential image motion monitor (DIMM) and a multi-aperture scin-tillation sensor (MASS) are discussed. Statistical results for the optical turbulence profile at the Paranal site are presented. We find that, in the median case, 49 per cent of the total opti-cal turbulence strength is associated with the surface layer (below 100 m), 35 per cent with the 'free atmosphere' (above 1500 m) and 16 per cent with the intermediate altitudes (100– 1500 m).

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Wilson, R. W., Butterley, T., & Sarazin, M. (2009). The Durham/ESO SLODAR optical turbulence profiler. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 399(4), 2129–2138. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2009.15409.x

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