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From atomic physics, to upper‐atmospheric chemistry, to cosmology: A “laser photometric ratio star” to calibrate telescopes at major observatoriesFree, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2023
A precise photometric ratio via laser excitation of the sodium layer – I. One-photon excitation using 342.78 nm lightABSTRACT The largest uncertainty on measurements of dark energy using type Ia supernovae (SNeIa) is presently due to systematics from photometry; specifically to the relative uncertainty on photometry as a function of wavelength in the optical spectrum. We show that a precise constraint on relative photometry between the visible and near-infrared can be achieved at upcoming survey telescopes, such as at the Vera C. Rubin Observatory, via a laser source tuned to the 342.78 nm vacuum excitation wavelength of neutral sodium atoms. Using a high-power laser, this excitation will produce an artificial star, which we term a ‘laser photometric ratio star’ (LPRS) of de-excitation light in the mesosphere at wavelengths in vacuum of 589.16, 589.76, 818.55, and 819.70 nm, with the sum of the numbers of 589.16 and 589.76 nm photons produced by this process equal to the sum of the numbers of 818.55 and 819.70 nm photons, establishing a precise calibration ratio between, for example, the r and $z$ filters of the LSST camera at the Rubin Observatory. This technique can thus provide a novel mechanism for establishing a spectrophotometric calibration ratio of unprecedented precision for upcoming telescopic observations across astronomy and atmospheric physics; thus greatly improving the performance of upcoming measurements of darkmore »
A precise photometric ratio via laser excitation of the sodium layer – II. Two-photon excitation using lasers detuned from 589.16 and 819.71 nm resonancesABSTRACT This paper is the second in a pair of papers on the topic of the generation of a two-colour artificial star [which we term a laser photometric ratio star (LPRS)] of de-excitation light from neutral sodium atoms in the mesosphere, for use in precision telescopic measurements in astronomy and atmospheric physics, and more specifically for the calibration of measurements of dark energy using type Ia supernovae. The two techniques, respectively, described in both this and the previous paper would each generate an LPRS with a precisely 1:1 ratio of yellow (589/590 nm) photons to near-infrared (819/820 nm) photons produced in the mesosphere. Both techniques would provide novel mechanisms for establishing a spectrophotometric calibration ratio of unprecedented precision, from above most of Earth’s atmosphere, for upcoming telescopic observations across astronomy and atmospheric physics; thus greatly improving the performance of upcoming measurements of dark energy parameters using type Ia supernovae. The technique described in this paper has the advantage of producing a much brighter (specifically, brighter by approximately a factor of 103) LPRS, using lower power (≤30 W average power) lasers, than the technique using a single 500 W average power laser described in the first paper of this pair. However, the technique described here would requiremore »