Abstract

Zero-order ray paths are examined in radially inhomogeneous spheres with differentiable refractive index profiles. It is demonstrated that zero-order and sometimes twin zero-order bows can exist when the gradient of refractive index is sufficiently negative. Abel inversion is used to “recover” the refractive index profiles; it is therefore possible in principle to specify the nature and type of bows and determine the refractive index profile that induces them. This may be of interest in the field of rainbow refractometry and optical fiber studies. This ray-theoretic analysis has direct similarities with the phenomenon of “orbiting” and other phenomena in scattering theory and also in seismological, surface gravity wave, and gravitational “lensing” studies. For completeness these topics are briefly discussed in the appendixes; they may also be of pedagogic interest.

© 2011 Optical Society of America

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