Adaptive-optic telescopes differ from normal telescopes by using a thin flexible primary mirror that can easily be deformed. A bright guide star near the observing area acts as a "beacon" for the telescope. As the image of the bright star is affected by turbulence, the primary mirror is distorted by computers to correct for the fluctuations.

Ragazzoni and his colleagues propose that a primary mirror made from a collection of smaller deformable mirrors could correct for the effects of atmospheric turbulence in three-dimensions, by compensating for the much wider field of view. In their experiment, they used three stars surrounding a central star in the constellation Aquila. They collected 130 snapshots of the constellation using the Italian 3.6m Galileo telescope and deliberately defocused the images so that the atmospheric distortion was easily highlighted and correctable in the final images. Their technique works both for constellations of real stars and for groups of "artificial" stars - bright beacons generated 90 km up in the atmosphere by lasers. Once a number of outstanding technical challenges have been solved, the new technique could lead to improved resolution images of the entire sky.