Astrophysics (index)about

Spectral Density

(strength of power or energy as a function of frequency)

Spectral Density is a term used in signal processing and Time Series Analysis. (Similar terms are used to describe the distribution of Electromagnetic Radiation or other Frequency-related phenomena.)

Power Spectral Density (PSD) is the distribution of power as described by the Fourier Transform of the auto-correlation function of a signal. It shows the strength of the variations in power as a function of frequency.

Energy Spectral Density (ESD) is similar, taken over a specific interval of time.

The terms energy and power are, in a sense, "borrowed", used because one is an amount and the other a rate of the same concept over time, analogous to how the terms are used for physical energy.

The terms can be used for analysis of a continuous signal, at least in theory, but modern electronics and data collection is generally digital and records and analyzes a discrete signal formed by sampling, taking periodic samples from an incoming signal (such as a voltage output from a Radio Telescope antenna over time), thus time series analysis. In the discrete case, the analysis is on a sequence of numbers, using computer algorithms, e.g., for the Fourier analysis, using the Fast Fourier Transform (calculating the Discrete Fourier Transform).


Referenced by:
Antenna Temperature
Magnetic Energy Spectrum