Ryan Nora graduated from Kealakehe High School in 2004 on the Big Island and is now a sophomore at Colorado School of Mines. He plans on majoring in Engineering Physics and then going on to graduate school for his PhD. Ryan likes to snowboard, mountain bike, and play guitar.

Home Island: Big Island
High School: Kealakehe High School
Institution when accepted: Colorado School of Mines

Akamai Project: Simulating the Effect of Atmospheric Distribution on a Wave Front
Project Site: Trex
Mentor: Ben Wheeler

Project Abstract:

When light travels through the atmosphere, their wave function becomes distorted. This distortion is what causes the stars to twinkle and our telescopic images to have low resolution. So how much does the atmosphere affect an incoming wave front? This can be answered by calculating the Strehl of an aberrated (distorted) wave function. Strehl is the ratio of the intensity heights of the aberrated wave function over the unaberrated wave function (a perfect system). The closer the ratio is to one, the better the resolution of the image will be. Using the program Mathematica, I have been able to simulate a perfect wave front and an aberrated wave front similar to what the atmosphere would create, and calculate the Strehl ratio from them. Results from a simulation give a Strehl of 0.03, which would correspondingly result in a blurry image. This shows the need for an adaptive optic system to correct the distortions in the wave front, which would yield a better Strehl ratio, and therefore result in a better image.