Abstract

We propose a self-consistency condition based on the extended Huygens–Fresnel principle, which we apply to the propagation kernel of the mutual coherence function of a partially coherent laser beam propagating through a turbulent atmosphere. The assumption of statistical independence of turbulence in neighboring propagation segments leads to an integral equation in the propagation kernel. This integral equation is satisfied by a Gaussian function, with dependence on the transverse coordinates that is identical to the previous Gaussian formulation by Yura [Appl. Opt. 11, 1399 (1972) [CrossRef]  ], but differs in the transverse coherence length’s dependence on propagation distance, so that this established version violates our self-consistency principle. Our formulation has one free parameter, which in the context of Kolmogorov’s theory is independent of turbulence strength and propagation distance. We determined its value by numerical fitting to the rigorous beam propagation theory of Yura and Hanson [J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 6, 564 (1989) [CrossRef]  ], demonstrating in addition a significant improvement over other Gaussian models.

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