resolving power

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resolving power:

see telescopetelescope,
traditionally, a system of lenses, mirrors, or both, used to gather light from a distant object and form an image of it. Traditional optical telescopes, which are the subject of this article, also are used to magnify objects on earth and in astronomy; other types of
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.

Resolving power (optics)

A quantitative measure of the ability of an optical instrument to produce separable images. The images to be resolved may differ in position because they represent (1) different points on the object, as in telescopes and microscopes, or (2) images of the same object in light of two different wavelengths, as in prism and grating spectroscopes. For the former class of instruments, the resolving limit is usually quoted as the smallest angular or linear separation of two object points, and for the latter class, as the smallest difference in wavelength or wave number that will produce separate images. Since these quantities are inversely proportional to the power of the instrument to resolve, the term resolving power has generally fallen into disfavor. It is still commonly applied to spectroscopes, however, for which the term chromatic resolving power is used, signifying the ratio of the wavelength itself to the smallest wavelength interval resolved. The figure quoted as the resolving power or resolving limit of an instrument may be the theoretical value that would be obtained if all optical parts were perfect, or it may be the actual value found experimentally. Aberrations of lenses or defects in the ruling of gratings usually cause the actual resolution to fall below the theoretical value, which therefore represents the maximum that could be obtained with the given dimensions of the instrument in question. This maximum is fixed by the wave nature of light and may be calculated for given conditions by diffraction theory. See Diffraction, Optical image

resolving power

The ability of a telescope, spectrograph, diffraction grating, or some other system to distinguish fine detail. See resolution.

resolving power

[ri′zälv·iŋ ‚pau̇·ər]
(electromagnetism)
The reciprocal of the beam width of a unidirectional antenna, measured in degrees.
(control systems)
(optics)
A quantitative measure of the ability of an optical instrument to produce separable images of different points on an object; usually, the smallest angular or linear separation of two object points for which they may be resolved according to the Rayleigh criterion. Also known as resolution.
(physics)
A measure of the ability of a mass spectroscope to separate particles of different masses, equal to the ratio of the average mass of two particles whose mass spectrum lines can just be completely separated, to the difference in their masses.
(spectroscopy)
A measure of the ability of a spectroscope or interferometer to separate spectral lines of nearly equal wavelength, equal to the average wavelength of two equally strong spectral lines whose images can barely be separated, divided by the difference in wavelengths; for spectroscopes, the lines must be resolved according to the Rayleigh criterion; for interferometers, the wavelengths at which the lines have half of maximum intensity must be equal. Also known as resolution.

resolving power

The property or capability of a radar set or of photographic equipment to form distinguishable images. In radar, the range resolution is determined by the pulse width, whereas the angular resolution is dependent on the antennabeam width. The velocity resolution is determined by the Doppler processing. The photo equipment's resolving power is determined by the lens and the emulsion.