Airy disk


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Airy disk: light distribution in Airy disk image of single point source (left) and two just resolvable point sources

Airy disk

(air -ee) The bright disklike image of a point source of light, such as a star, as seen in an optical system with a circular aperture. The disk is formed by diffraction effects in the instrument and is surrounded by faint diffraction rings that are only seen under perfect conditions (see illustration). The disk diameter, first calculated by George Airy in 1834, is the factor limiting the angular resolution of the telescope.

Airy disk

[¦er·ē ¦disk]
(optics)
The bright, diffuse central spot of light formed by an optical system imaging a point source of light.
References in periodicals archive ?
It is actually a small disk, known as the Airy disk, surrounded by a series of diffraction rings, with the first ring being prominent and the rest dim.
Based on the expression of the Airy disk width at the focal plane of the lens D = 1.22[lambda]f/w, w is the radius of the transmission beam.
At the focus the image of a star appears as a small bright disk surrounded by concentric rings of diminishing brightness, known as Airy disk or diffraction spot.
As a result, constructive and destructive interference occurs, forming a so-called Airy disk instead of an infinitely small focused point.
This pattern is called the Airy disk after George B.
Let me add one minor point, however, regarding Phillip Kane's comment, "A scope with a central obstruction shows a slightly larger Airy disk...
A scope with a central obstruction shows a slightly larger Airy disk (the bright center of a star's diffraction pattern) than an unobstructed aperture.
The smallest focused spot is called the Airy disk, which depends on the wavelength of light and the aperture of the optical system.
After slight tweaks to the telescope's collimation, the optics yielded classic Airy disk diffraction patterns around stars at high powers, and double stars such as Epsilon Lyrae were well resolved.
But the Airy disk's angular diameter is halved, so the light is now concentrated in one quarter the area.
Viewed at high power, stars looked "textbook perfect," with little evidence of spherical aberration disturbing their Airy disk patterns, and there was no hint of astigmatism distorting them into ellipses or other odd shapes from malformed or pinched optics.
Under steady skies and using high magnification (25x or more per inch of telescope aperture), we will see a star's image as a tiny disk (called the Airy disk) surrounded by a bull's-eye pattern of faint diffraction rings.