Abstract

The paper discusses the tensor coherence properties of thermal radiation emitted into space by a blackbody source and presents numerical results for observation points restricted to a volume of space with linear dimensions small compared with the distance to the source, from which the source subtends a solid angle of circular cross section. For the first time, to my knowledge, surface and contour plots are given, showing the magnitude of the electric, magnetic, and mixed cross-spectral tensor components on selected planes as a function of the spatial separation between the observation points. Also, it is shown how these distributions change as the angular diameter of the source is varied. Small angular diameter sources are well described by the van Cittert–Zernike theorem of scalar coherence theory. For large angular diameter sources all nonzero components are of the same order of magnitude and are not properly described by the scalar theory. However, the trace of the electric tensor is in agreement with scalar theory.

© 1997 Optical Society of America

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