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Journal of the Optical Society of America A

Journal of the Optical Society of America A


  • Editor: Stephen A. Burns
  • Vol. 26, Iss. 10 — Oct. 1, 2009
  • pp: 2109–2113

Fundamental role of the retarded potential in the electrodynamics of superluminal sources: reply to comment

Houshang Ardavan, Arzhang Ardavan, John Singleton, Joseph Fasel, and Andrea Schmidt  »View Author Affiliations

JOSA A, Vol. 26, Issue 10, pp. 2109-2113 (2009)

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Neither Eq. (6.52) of Jackson [Classical Electrodynamics, 3rd ed. (Wiley, 1999)] nor Hannay’s derivation of that equation in the preceding Comment [ J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 26, 2107 (2009) ] is applicable to a source whose distribution pattern moves faster than light in vacuo with nonzero acceleration. It is assumed in Hannay’s derivation that the retarded distribution of the density of any moving source will be smooth and differentiable if its rest-frame distribution is. By working out an explicit example of a rotating superluminal source with a bounded and smooth density profile, we show that this assumption is erroneous. The retarded distribution of a rotating source with a moderate superluminal speed is, in general, spread over three disjoint volumes (differing in shape from one another and from the volume occupied by the source in its rest frame) whose boundaries depend on the space–time position of the observer. Hannay overlooks the fact that the limits of integration in his expression for the retarded potential are not differentiable, as functions of the coordinates of the observer, when the distribution pattern of the source moves faster than light. These limits, which delineate the boundaries of the retarded distribution of the source, have divergent gradients at those points on the source boundary that approach the observer, along the radiation direction, with the speed of light at the retarded time. In the superluminal regime, derivatives of the integral representing the retarded potential are well defined only as generalized functions.

© 2009 Optical Society of America

OCIS Codes
(030.1670) Coherence and statistical optics : Coherent optical effects
(040.3060) Detectors : Infrared
(230.6080) Optical devices : Sources
(250.5530) Optoelectronics : Pulse propagation and temporal solitons
(260.2110) Physical optics : Electromagnetic optics
(350.1270) Other areas of optics : Astronomy and astrophysics

ToC Category:
Optical Devices

Original Manuscript: June 16, 2009
Manuscript Accepted: August 4, 2009
Published: September 1, 2009

Houshang Ardavan, Arzhang Ardavan, John Singleton, Joseph Fasel, and Andrea Schmidt, "Fundamental role of the retarded potential in the electrodynamics of superluminal sources: reply to comment," J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 26, 2109-2113 (2009)

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