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I wish to generate a surface intensity plot of an Airy disk (or perhaps a two-dimensional Gaussian approximation to an Airy disk) on an (x, y)-plane at a specified coordinate. The hope is to have something like this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Airy-3d.svg with solid surface coloration. I am OK with a decent mesh approximation of a representative curve.

Is there a built in method of generating these sorts of intensity plots and treating them like Graphics3D objects that can be translated and placed as desired?

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RevolutionPlot3D is a good tool for handling this question. The Airy function is given by

airy[r_?NumericQ, β_?NumericQ] := ((1 - E^(-(2/β^2))) BesselJ[1, (2 π r)/β]^2)/(π r^2 β^2)

Because 3D plotting is much slower, before proceeding to 3D, I recommend making a 2D plot to check that the parameter β has been chosen to give a good looking curve.

Plot[airy[r, 1.], {r, 0, 1.5}, AspectRatio -> Automatic, PlotRange -> All]

2Dplot.png

Because the revolution will be made about the z-axis, the arguments from the 2D plot can be transferred directly. To get the right look, it is necessary to adjust some the display options away from their default values.

plot = RevolutionPlot3D[airy[r, 1.], {r, 0, 1.5},
  Boxed -> False,
  BoxRatios -> {1, 1, 1},
  Axes -> None,
  PlotRange -> All,
  Mesh -> 20,
  PlotPoints -> 100,
  Lighting -> {{"Ambient", White}}]

3Dplot.png

A fine witches hat for Halloween.

To extract the polygons used to draw the RevolutionPlot3D, you can use kguler's function getVrtxCoords from this answer. Here is what you will get

polygons = Polygon@getVrtxCoords[plot, {Polygon}];
Graphics3D[polygons]

polygons.png

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The plot referenced can be done with Plot3D. I grabbed the intensity profile from the wiki page

{x0,y0}={0,0};
s[x_,y_]:=Sqrt[(x-x0)^2 + (y-y0)^2]
Plot3D[(2 BesselJ[1, s[x,y]]/s[x,y])^2,
  {x, -10, 10}, {y, -10, 10}, PlotRange -> All,
  ColorFunction -> "BlueGreenYellow"]

Airy disk

I wasn't sure about what you meant by translating and placing, so you may have to redefine s[x,y] according its definition

k a Sin[θ] == s[x,y,z]
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