Abstract

The aim of the present work is to obtain expressions for both the wavefront train and the caustic associated with the light rays reflected by an arbitrary smooth surface after being emitted by a point light source located at an arbitrary position in free space. To this end, we obtain an expression for the k-function associated with the general integral of Stavroudis to the eikonal equation that describes the evolution of the reflected light rays. The caustic is computed by using the definitions of the critical and caustic sets of the map that describes the evolution of an arbitrary wavefront associated with the general integral. It is shown that the expression for the caustic is the same as that—reported in the literature—obtained by using an exact ray tracing. The general results are applied to a parabolic mirror. For this case, we find that when the point light source is off the optical axis, the caustic locally has singularities of the hyperbolic umbilic type while the reflected wavefront at the caustic region locally has singularities of the cusp ridge and swallowtail types.

© 2009 Optical Society of America

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