A reciprocal relationship between the autocovariance of the light intensity in the source plane and in the far-field detector plane is presented in a form analogous to the classical van Cittert–Zernike theorem, but involving intensity correlation functions. A “classical” version of the reciprocity relationship is considered first, based on the assumption of circular Gaussian statistics of the complex amplitudes in the source plane. The result is consistent with the theory of Hanbury Brown–Twiss interferometry, but it is shown to be also applicable to estimation of the source size or the spatial resolution of the detector from the noise power spectrum of flat-field images. An alternative version of the van Cittert–Zernike theorem for intensity correlations is then derived for a quantized electromagnetic beam in a coherent state, which leads to Poisson statistics for the intrinsic intensity of the beam.
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