The recently introduced generalized pencil of Sudarshan which gives an exact ray picture of wave optics is analysed in some situations of interest to wave optics. A relationship between ray dispersion and statistical inhomogeneity of the field is obtained. A paraxial approximation which preserves the rectilinear propagation character of the generalized pencils is presented. Under this approximation the pencils can be computed directly from the field conditions on a plane, without the necessity to compute the cross-spectral density function in the entire space as an intermediate quantity. The paraxial results are illustrated with examples. The pencils are shown to exhibit an interesting scaling behaviour in the far-zone. This scaling leads to a natural generalization of the Fraunhofer range criterion and of the classical van Cittert-Zernike theorem to planar sources of arbitrary state of coherence. The recently derived results of radiometry with partially coherent sources are shown to be simple consequences of this scaling.
KeywordsGeneralized pencils paraxial approximation partial coherence radiometry diffraction interference wave optics
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