Abstract

The detection of an incoherent object, light from which is received in the presence of thermal radiant energy, is treated by quantum detection theory under the assumption that the product of the observation time and the bandwidth of the object light is large. The threshold detector measures a quantum-mechanical operator that is a quadratic functional of the field at the aperture of the receiver. The statistics of the outcome of this measurement are approximately Poisson, and the detectability of the object depends—as under a background limitation—on the number of effectively independent spatio-temporal modes of the field. The detectabilities of objects with a rectangular and a Lorentz spectrum are compared under the assumption that the light from each possesses first-order coherence at the aperture.

© 1969 Optical Society of America

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