Imaging through Atmospheric Turbulence

Sub-Rayleigh Imaging

The Rayleigh limit and low Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR) scenarios pose significant limitations to optical imaging systems used in remote sensing, infrared thermal imaging, and space domain awareness. In this study, we introduce a Stochastic Sub-Rayleigh Imaging (SSRI) algorithm to localize point objects and estimate their positions, brightnesses, and number in low SNR conditions, even below the Rayleigh limit. Our algorithm adopts a maximum likelihood approach and exploits the Poisson distribution of incoming photons to overcome the Rayleigh limit in low SNR conditions. In our experimental validation, which closely mirrors practical scenarios, we focus on conditions with closely spaced sources within the sub-Rayleigh limit (0.49-1.00R) and weak signals (SNR less than 1.2). We use the Jaccard index and Jaccard efficiency as a figure of merit to quantify imaging performance in the sub-Rayleigh region. Our approach consistently outperforms established algorithms such as Richardson-Lucy and CLEAN by 4X in the low SNR, sub-Rayleigh regime. Our SSRI algorithm allows existing telescope-based optical/infrared imaging systems to overcome the extreme limit of sub-Rayleigh, low SNR source distributions, potentially impacting a wide range of fields, including passive thermal imaging, remote sensing, and space domain awareness.


Figure: Experimental demonstration. Point sources detection with extremely low and high SNR

Source: Choi, Hyunsoo, et al. "Telescope imaging beyond the Rayleigh limit in extremely low SNR." (2023).