# Airy disc

Due to the wave nature of light, light passing through apertures is diffracted, and the diffraction increases with decreasing aperture size.

The resulting diffraction pattern of a uniformly illuminated circular aperture has a bright region in the centre, known as the **Airy Disc**, which is surrounded by concentric rings. The diameter of this disc is related to the wavelength of the illuminating light and the size (f-number) of the circular aperture. The angle from the center at which the first minimum occurs is

**Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle \sin \theta = 1.22 \frac{\lambda}{d}}**

where λ is the wavelength of the light and *d* is the diameter of the aperture. The Rayleigh criterion for barely resolving two objects is that the centre of the Airy disc for the first object occurs at the first minima of the Airy disc of the second.

The Airy disc is used in astronomy as one of several methods used to determine the quality and alignment of the optical components of a telescope.

## Mathematical Details

The intensity of the Fraunhofer diffraction pattern of a circular aperture is given by:

**Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle I(\theta) = I_0 \left ( \frac{2 J_1(ka \sin \theta)}{ka \sin \theta} \right )^2}**

where **Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle J_1}**
is a Bessel function of the first kind, **Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle a}**
is the radius of the disc, and **Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle k = \frac{2 \pi}{\lambda}}**
. The first zero of **Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle J_1(x)}**
is where **Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle x = 3.83}**
, so the first zero of the diffraction pattern is where

**Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle \sin \theta = \frac{3.83}{ka} = \frac{3.83 \lambda}{\pi d} = 1.22 \frac{\lambda}{d}}**.

## See also

## External links

- Diffraction Limited Photography understanding how airy discs, lens aperture and pixel size limit the absolute resolution of any camera.