Time smearing or time-average smearing is the degradation of the reconstructed image of a celestial body observed by a ground-based interferometer that occurs because of the duration of the observation. Unlike single telescopes or cameras that can compensate the Earth's rotation in real time with a dedicated mount, the different telescopes of the interferometer are at fixed positions on the Earth. As a result, maps obtained with interferometers feature the elongated orthoradial features similar to those of night sky photographs taken with a fixed tripod, unless they use short enough integration times.
The smearing is a problem for long integration times or very separated telescopes. Mostly an issue in radioastronomy, it severely limits the usable field of view of observations in very long baseline interferometry.
- Bridle, Alan H. and Schwab, Frederic R., Wide Field Imaging I: Bandwidth and Time-Average Smearing in Synthesis imaging in radio astronomy (1989), eds. Richard A. Perley, Frederic R. Schwab, Astronomical Society of the Pacific Conference Series, vol. 6, ISBN 0-937707-23-6, p. 247.