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θ = 1 . 22 λ D , size 12{θ=1 "." "22" { {λ} over {D} } } {}

where λ size 12{λ} {} is the wavelength of light (or other electromagnetic radiation) and D size 12{D} {} is the diameter of the aperture, lens, mirror, etc., with which the two objects are observed. In this expression, θ size 12{θ} {} has units of radians.

Part a of the figure shows a graph of intensity versus theta. The curve has a central maximum at theta equals zero and its first minima occur at plus one point two two lambda over D and minus one point two two lambda over D. Farther from the central peak, several small peaks occur, but they are much much smaller than the central maximum. Part b of the figure shows a drawing in which two light bulbs, labeled object one and object two, appear in the foreground positioned next to each other. Two rays of light, one from each light bulb, pass through a pinhole aperture and continue on to strike a screen that is farther back in the drawing. On the screen is an x y plot of the two resulting intensity patterns. Because the rays cross in the pinhole, the ray from the left light bulb makes the right-hand intensity pattern, and vice versa. The angle between the rays coming from the light bulbs is labeled theta min. Each ray hits the screen at the central maximum of the intensity pattern that corresponds to the object from which the ray came. The central maximum of object one is at the same position as the first minimum of object two, and vice versa.
(a) Graph of intensity of the diffraction pattern for a circular aperture. Note that, similar to a single slit, the central maximum is wider and brighter than those to the sides. (b) Two point objects produce overlapping diffraction patterns. Shown here is the Rayleigh criterion for being just resolvable. The central maximum of one pattern lies on the first minimum of the other.

Connections: limits to knowledge

All attempts to observe the size and shape of objects are limited by the wavelength of the probe. Even the small wavelength of light prohibits exact precision. When extremely small wavelength probes as with an electron microscope are used, the system is disturbed, still limiting our knowledge, much as making an electrical measurement alters a circuit. Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle asserts that this limit is fundamental and inescapable, as we shall see in quantum mechanics.

Calculating diffraction limits of the hubble space telescope

The primary mirror of the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope has a diameter of 2.40 m. Being in orbit, this telescope avoids the degrading effects of atmospheric distortion on its resolution. (a) What is the angle between two just-resolvable point light sources (perhaps two stars)? Assume an average light wavelength of 550 nm. (b) If these two stars are at the 2 million light year distance of the Andromeda galaxy, how close together can they be and still be resolved? (A light year, or ly, is the distance light travels in 1 year.)

Strategy

The Rayleigh criterion stated in the equation θ = 1 . 22 λ D size 12{θ=1 "." "22" { {λ} over {D} } } {} gives the smallest possible angle θ size 12{θ} {} between point sources, or the best obtainable resolution. Once this angle is found, the distance between stars can be calculated, since we are given how far away they are.

Solution for (a)

The Rayleigh criterion for the minimum resolvable angle is

θ = 1 . 22 λ D . size 12{θ=1 "." "22" { {λ} over {D} } } {}

Entering known values gives

θ = 1 . 22 550 × 10 9 m 2 . 40 m =  2.80 × 10 7 rad.

Solution for (b)

The distance s size 12{s} {} between two objects a distance r size 12{r} {} away and separated by an angle θ size 12{θ} {} is s = size 12{s=rθ} {} .

Substituting known values gives

s = ( 2.0 × 10 6 ly ) ( 2.80 × 10 −7 rad ) = 0 . 56 ly.

Discussion

The angle found in part (a) is extraordinarily small (less than 1/50,000 of a degree), because the primary mirror is so large compared with the wavelength of light. As noticed, diffraction effects are most noticeable when light interacts with objects having sizes on the order of the wavelength of light. However, the effect is still there, and there is a diffraction limit to what is observable. The actual resolution of the Hubble Telescope is not quite as good as that found here. As with all instruments, there are other effects, such as non-uniformities in mirrors or aberrations in lenses that further limit resolution. However, [link] gives an indication of the extent of the detail observable with the Hubble because of its size and quality and especially because it is above the Earth’s atmosphere.

Questions & Answers

it is a process in which electrolyte breaks down into its ions....
ABHISHEK Reply
ionization
Shang
A ball is thrown vertically upwards so that its max height is 100m...at the same instant another ball is dropped frm 100m above the ground...where will the two balls meet and why?
Blessing Reply
50m
wenhe
why?
Blessing
plz calculate the answer...
Blessing
😟
Blessing
75m
S.M
how?😨
Blessing
because they approach each other at different speeds, but same acceleration, so you can calculate its height above ground.
S.M
Yeah. He's right. Your question seems very similar to a question I did in physics class, and our answer was 50.so yeah that's why I said that. But 75m is correct
wenhe
what's is waves
nuraddeen
Waves is the disturbance of a medium such that the particles in the medium vibrate to cause the movement of energy from one point to another without the the particle itself moving.
Prince
what is the medium that light waves travel through?
Luke
and electrons, protons, neutrons and quarks for that matter?
Luke
it's spacetime that light and every other particles travel through actually
S.M
ether
Anand
for above question, i think 50m is the correct answer. the first ball will behave exactly like 2nd ball when it reaches 100m (max height).
James
From rest, a body moves with an acceleration of 8m/s in 10 secs. calculate the distance during the 8th seconds
Caleb
please use energy conservation to solve this problem. i think i have an answer but it is too long to explain here.
James
one is with some initial velocity v, while other one will start it's journey from rest, so they can't travel equal distance in equal amount of time
S.M
to be honest I knew the answer was just pointing out a flaw in above answer and light does not require a medium to travel through, this was proved in the 1887 by Michelson and Morley.
Luke
the two balls have different acceleration. the accelerations are same in magnitude but in different directions for them. so the first ball will gradually move slower and the 2nd ball will move faster.
James
u can just put 50m or 75m in equation to check whether right or not
James
the total energy of the two balls are equal, KE + PE. 1/2mv(1)^ 2 + mgh(1) = 1/2mv(2)^2 +mgh(2). use that
James
what's is electrolysis
nuraddeen
Give an example (but not one from the text) of a device used to measure time and identify what change in that device indicates a change in time.
David Reply
hour glass, pendulum clock, atomic clock?
S.M
tnks
David
A heart pumping blood would indicate a change in time as its volume or pressure changed. The ratio of displacement or change in configuration between any 2 systems can indicate time.
Khashon
how did they solve for "t" after getting 67.6=.5(Voy + 0)t
Martin Reply
Find the following for path D in [link] : (a) The distance traveled. (b) The magnitude of the displacement from start to finish. (c) The displacement from start to finish.
David Reply
the topic is kinematics
David
can i get notes of solid state physics
Lohitha
just check the chpt. 13 kinetic theory of matter it's there
David
is acceleration a fundamental unit.
David Reply
no it is derived
Abdul
no
Nisha
K thanks
David
no it's not its derived
Emmanuel
hi
Gift
Hello
Gift
hello gift
Emmanuel
hello
David
Hello Emmanuel
Gift
how are you gift
Emmanuel
I'm good
Gift
that's good
Emmanuel
how are you too
Gift
am cool
Emmanuel
spending time summarizing
Emmanuel
broadening my horizon
Emmanuel
I am fin
Longwar
ok
Gift
hi guys can you teach me how to solve a logarithm?
Villaflor Reply
how about a conceptual framework can you simplify for me? needed please
Villaflor
Hello what happens when electrone stops its rotation around its nucleus if it possible how
Afzal
I think they are constantly moving
Villaflor
yep what is problem you are stuck into context?
S.M
not possible to fix electron position in space,
S.M
Physics
Beatriz
yes of course Villa flor
David
equations of kinematics for constant acceleration
Sagcurse Reply
A bottle full of water weighs 45g when full of mercury,it weighs 360g.if the empty bottle weighs 20g.calculate the relative density of mercury and the density of mercury....pls I need help
Lila Reply
well You know the density of water is 1000kg/m^3.And formula for density is density=mass/volume Then we must calculate volume of bottle and mass of mercury: Volume of bottle is (45-20)/1000000=1/40000 mass of mercury is:(360-20)/1000 kg density of mercury:(340/1000):1/50000=(340•40000):1000=13600
Sobirjon
the latter is true
Sobirjon
100g of water is mixed with 60g of a liquid of relative density 1.2.assuming no changes in volume occurred,find the average relative density of the mixture...take density of water as 1g/cm3 and density of liquid 1.2g/cm3
Lila
plz hu can explain Heisenberg's uncertainty principle
Emmanuel Reply
who can help me with my problem about acceleration?
Vann Reply
ok
Nicholas
how to solve this... a car is heading north then smoothly made a westward turn during the travel the speed of the car remains constant at 1.5km/h what is the acceleration of the car? the total travel time of the car as it smoothly changed its direction is 15 minutes
Vann
i think the acceleration is 0 since the car does not change its speed unless there are other conditions
Ben
yes I have to agree, the key phrase is, "the speed of the car remains constant...," all other information is not needed to conclude that acceleration remains at 0 during the entire time
Luis
who can help me with a relative density question
Lila
1cm3 sample of tin lead alloy has mass 8.5g.the relative density of tin is 7.3 and that of lead is 11.3.calculate the percentage by weight of tin in the alloy. assuming that there is no change of volume when the metals formed the alloy
Lila
So it looks like you need a formula for rotational acceleration. Are you asking about its angular acceleration?
Khashon
morning, what will happen to the volume of an ice block when heat is added from -200°c to 0°c... Will it volume increase or decrease?
adefenwa Reply
no
Emmanuel
hi what is physical education?
Kate
BPED..is my course.
Kate
No
Emmanuel
I think it is neither decreases nor increases ,it remains in the same volume because of its crystal structure
Sobirjon
100g of water is mixed with 60g of a liquid of relative density 1.2.assuming no changes in volume occurred,find the average relative density of the mixture. take density of water as 1g/cm3 and density of liquid as 1.2g/cm3
Lila
Sorry what does it means"no changes in volume occured"?
Sobirjon
volume can be the amount of space occupied by an object. But when an object does not change in shape it will still occupy the same space. Thats why the volume will still remain the same
Ben
Most soilds expand when heated but if it changes state at 0C it will have less volume. Ice floats because it is less dense ie a larger mass per unit volume.
Richard
how to calculate velocity
Okwethu Reply
v=d/t
Emeka
his about the speed?
Villaflor
how about speed
Villaflor
v=d/t
Nisha
hello bro hw is life with you
Jacob Reply
Mine is good. How about you?
Chase
Hi room of engineers
lawan Reply
yes,hi sir
Okwethu
hello
akinmeji
Hello
Mishael
hello
Jerry
hi
Sakhi
hi
H.C
so, what is going on here
akinmeji
u are all wlc just ask your question anybody. can answer
Ajayi
good morning ppl
ABDUL
Practice Key Terms 1

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Source:  OpenStax, College physics. OpenStax CNX. Jul 27, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11406/1.9
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