Thermal radiation is electromagnetic radiation generated by the thermal motion of particles in matter. All matter with a temperature greater than absolute zero emits thermal radiation. Particle motion results in charge-acceleration or dipole oscillation which produces electromagnetic radiation.
If a radiation-emitting object meets the physical characteristics of a black body in thermodynamic equilibrium, the radiation is called blackbody radiation. Planck's law describes the spectrum of blackbody radiation, which depends solely on the object's temperature. Wien's displacement law determines the most likely frequency of the emitted radiation, and the Stefan–Boltzmann law gives the radiant intensity.
Thermal radiation is also one of the fundamental mechanisms of heat transfer.
Thermal radiation, also known as heat, is the emission of electromagnetic waves from all matter that has a temperature greater than absolute zero. It represents the conversion of thermal energy into electromagnetic energy. Thermal energy consists of the kinetic energy of random movements of atoms and molecules in matter. All matter with a temperature by definition is composed of particles which have kinetic energy, and which interact with each other. These atoms and molecules are composed of charged particles, i.e., protons and electrons, and kinetic interactions among matter particles result in charge-acceleration and dipole-oscillation. This results in the electrodynamic generation of coupled electric and magnetic fields, resulting in the emission of photons, radiating energy away from the body through its surface boundary. Electromagnetic radiation, including light, does not require the presence of matter to propagate and travels in the vacuum of space infinitely far if unobstructed.
The characteristics of thermal radiation depend on various properties of the surface it is emanating from, including its temperature, its spectral absorptivity and spectral emissive power, as expressed by Kirchhoff's law. The radiation is not monochromatic, i.e., it does not consist of just a single frequency, but comprises a continuous dispersion of photon energies, its characteristic spectrum. If the radiating body and its surface are in thermodynamic equilibrium and the surface has perfect absorptivity at all wavelengths, it is characterized as a black body. A black body is also a perfect emitter. The radiation of such perfect emitters is called black-body radiation. The ratio of any body's emission relative to that of a black body is the body's emissivity, so that a black body has an emissivity of unity.
Absorptivity, reflectivity, and emissivity of all bodies are dependent on the wavelength of the radiation. Due to reciprocity, absorptivity and emissivity for any particular wavelength are equal - a good absorber is necessarily a good emitter, and a poor absorber a poor emitter. The temperature determines the wavelength distribution of the electromagnetic radiation. For example, the white paint in the diagram to the right is highly reflective to visible light (reflectivity about 0.80), and so appears white to the human eye due to reflecting sunlight, which has a peak wavelength of about 0.5 micrometers. However, its emissivity at a temperature of about −5 °C (23 °F), peak wavelength of about 12 micrometers, is 0.95. Thus, to thermal radiation it appears black.
The distribution of power that a black body emits with varying frequency is described by Planck's law. At any given temperature, there is a frequency fmax at which the power emitted is a maximum. Wien's displacement law, and the fact that the frequency is inversely proportional to the wavelength, indicates that the peak frequency fmax is proportional to the absolute temperature T of the black body. The photosphere of the sun, at a temperature of approximately 6000 K, emits radiation principally in the (humanly) visible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. Earth's atmosphere is partly transparent to visible light, and the light reaching the surface is absorbed or reflected. Earth's surface emits the absorbed radiation, approximating the behavior of a black body at 300 K with spectral peak at fmax. At these lower frequencies, the atmosphere is largely opaque and radiation from Earth's surface is absorbed or scattered by the atmosphere. Though about 10% of this radiation escapes into space, most is absorbed and then re-emitted by atmospheric gases. It is this spectral selectivity of the atmosphere that is responsible for the planetary greenhouse effect, contributing to global warming and climate change in general (but also critically contributing to climate stability when the composition and properties of the atmosphere are not changing).
The incandescent light bulb has a spectrum overlapping the black body spectra of the sun and the earth. Some of the photons emitted by a tungsten light bulb filament at 3000 K are in the visible spectrum. Most of the energy is associated with photons of longer wavelengths; these do not help a person see, but still transfer heat to the environment, as can be deduced empirically by observing an incandescent light bulb. Whenever EM radiation is emitted and then absorbed, heat is transferred. This principle is used in microwave ovens, laser cutting, and RF hair removal.
Unlike conductive and convective forms of heat transfer, thermal radiation can be concentrated in a tiny spot by using reflecting mirrors. Concentrating solar power takes advantage of this fact. In many such systems, mirrors are employed to concentrate sunlight into a smaller area. Instead of mirrors, Fresnel lenses can also be used to concentrate heat flux. (In principle, any kind of lens can be used, but only the Fresnel lens design is practical for very large lenses.) Either method can be used to quickly vaporize water into steam using sunlight. For example, the sunlight reflected from mirrors heats the PS10 Solar Power Plant, and during the day it can heat water to 285 °C (558.15 K) or 545 °F.
Lighter colors and also whites and metallic substances absorb less illuminating light, and thus heat up less; but otherwise color makes small difference as regards heat transfer between an object at everyday temperatures and its surroundings, since the dominant emitted wavelengths are nowhere near the visible spectrum, but rather in the far infrared. Emissivities at those wavelengths have little to do with visual emissivities (visible colors); in the far infra-red, most objects have high emissivities. Thus, except in sunlight, the color of clothing makes little difference as regards warmth; likewise, paint color of houses makes little difference to warmth except when the painted part is sunlit.
The main exception to this is shiny metal surfaces, which have low emissivities both in the visible wavelengths and in the far infrared. Such surfaces can be used to reduce heat transfer in both directions; an example of this is the multi-layer insulation used to insulate spacecraft.
Low-emissivity windows in houses are a more complicated technology, since they must have low emissivity at thermal wavelengths while remaining transparent to visible light.
Nanostructures with spectrally selective thermal emittance properties offer numerous technological applications for energy generation and efficiency, e.g., for cooling photovoltaic cells and buildings. These applications require high emittance in the frequency range corresponding to the atmospheric transparency window in 8 to 13 micron wavelength range. A selective emitter radiating strongly in this range is thus exposed to the clear sky, enabling the use of the outer space as a very low temperature heat sink.
Personalized cooling technology is another example of an application where optical spectral selectivity can be beneficial. Conventional personal cooling is typically achieved through heat conduction and convection. However, the human body is a very efficient emitter of infrared radiation, which provides an additional cooling mechanism. Most conventional fabrics are opaque to infrared radiation and block thermal emission from the body to the environment. Fabrics for personalized cooling applications have been proposed that enable infrared transmission to directly pass through clothing, while being opaque at visible wavelengths. Fabrics that are transparent in the infrared can radiate body heat at rates that will significantly reduce the burden on power-hungry air-conditioning systems.
There are four main properties that characterize thermal radiation (in the limit of the far field):
The general properties of thermal radiation as described by the Planck's law apply if the linear dimension of all parts considered, as well as radii of curvature of all surfaces are large compared with the wavelength of the ray considered' (typically from 8-25 micrometres for the emitter at 300 K). Indeed, thermal radiation as discussed above takes only radiating waves (far-field, or electromagnetic radiation) into account. A more sophisticated framework involving electromagnetic theory must be used for smaller distances from the thermal source or surface (near-field thermal radiation). For example, although far-field thermal radiation at distances from surfaces of more than one wavelength is generally not coherent to any extent, near-field thermal radiation (i.e., radiation at distances of a fraction of various radiation wavelengths) may exhibit a degree of both temporal and spatial coherence.
Planck's law of thermal radiation has been challenged in recent decades by predictions and successful demonstrations of the radiative heat transfer between objects separated by nanoscale gaps that deviate significantly from the law predictions. This deviation is especially strong (up to several orders in magnitude) when the emitter and absorber support surface polariton modes that can couple through the gap separating cold and hot objects. However, to take advantage of the surface-polariton-mediated near-field radiative heat transfer, the two objects need to be separated by ultra-narrow gaps on the order of microns or even nanometers. This limitation significantly complicates practical device designs.
Another way to modify the object thermal emission spectrum is by reducing the dimensionality of the emitter itself. This approach builds upon the concept of confining electrons in quantum wells, wires and dots, and tailors thermal emission by engineering confined photon states in two- and three-dimensional potential traps, including wells, wires, and dots. Such spatial confinement concentrates photon states and enhances thermal emission at select frequencies. To achieve the required level of photon confinement, the dimensions of the radiating objects should be on the order of or below the thermal wavelength predicted by Planck's law. Most importantly, the emission spectrum of thermal wells, wires and dots deviates from Planck's law predictions not only in the near field, but also in the far field, which significantly expands the range of their applications.
|°C (°F)||Subjective color|
|480 °C (896 °F)||faint red glow|
|580 °C (1,076 °F)||dark red|
|730 °C (1,350 °F)||bright red, slightly orange|
|930 °C (1,710 °F)||bright orange|
|1,100 °C (2,010 °F)||pale yellowish orange|
|1,300 °C (2,370 °F)||yellowish white|
|> 1,400 °C (2,550 °F)||white (yellowish if seen from a distance through atmosphere)|
|170||Maximum flux measured in a post-flashover compartment|
|80||Thermal Protective Performance test for personal protective equipment|
|52||Fiberboard ignites at 5 seconds|
|29||Wood ignites, given time|
|20||Typical beginning of flashover at floor level of a residential room|
|16||Human skin: sudden pain and second-degree burn blisters after 5 seconds|
|12.5||Wood produces ignitable volatiles by pyrolysis|
|10.4||Human skin: Pain after 3 seconds, second-degree burn blisters after 9 seconds|
|6.4||Human skin: second-degree burn blisters after 18 seconds|
|4.5||Human skin: second-degree burn blisters after 30 seconds|
|2.5||Human skin: burns after prolonged exposure, radiant flux exposure typically encountered during firefighting|
|1.4||Sunlight, sunburns potentially within 30 minutes. Note sunburn is NOT a thermal burn, it is caused by DNA damage due to ultraviolet radiation.|
Thermal radiation is one of the three principal mechanisms of heat transfer. It entails the emission of a spectrum of electromagnetic radiation due to an object's temperature. Other mechanisms are convection and conduction. The interplay of energy exchange by thermal radiation is characterized by the following equation:
Here, represents the spectral absorption component, spectral reflection component and the spectral transmission component. These elements are a function of the wavelength () of the electromagnetic radiation. The spectral absorption is equal to the emissivity ; this relation is known as Kirchhoff's law of thermal radiation. An object is called a black body if, for all frequencies, the following formula applies:
In a practical situation and room-temperature setting, humans lose considerable energy due to thermal radiation in infra-red in addition to that lost by conduction to air (aided by concurrent convection, or other air movement like drafts). The heat energy lost is partially regained by absorbing heat radiation from walls or other surroundings. (Heat gained by conduction would occur for air temperature higher than body temperature.) Otherwise, body temperature is maintained from generated heat through internal metabolism. Human skin has an emissivity of very close to 1.0. Using the formulas below shows a human, having roughly 2 square meter in surface area, and a temperature of about 307 K, continuously radiates approximately 1000 watts. If people are indoors, surrounded by surfaces at 296 K, they receive back about 900 watts from the wall, ceiling, and other surroundings, so the net loss is only about 100 watts. These heat transfer estimates are highly dependent on extrinsic variables, such as wearing clothes, i.e. decreasing total thermal circuit conductivity, therefore reducing total output heat flux. Only truly gray systems (relative equivalent emissivity/absorptivity and no directional transmissivity dependence in all control volume bodies considered) can achieve reasonable steady-state heat flux estimates through the Stefan-Boltzmann law. Encountering this "ideally calculable" situation is almost impossible (although common engineering procedures surrender the dependency of these unknown variables and "assume" this to be the case). Optimistically, these "gray" approximations will get close to real solutions, as most divergence from Stefan-Boltzmann solutions is very small (especially in most STP lab controlled environments).
If objects appear white (reflective in the visual spectrum), they are not necessarily equally reflective (and thus non-emissive) in the thermal infrared - see the diagram at the left. Most household radiators are painted white but this is sensible given that they are not hot enough to radiate any significant amount of heat, and are not designed as thermal radiators at all - they are actually convectors, and painting them matt black would make little difference to their efficacy. Acrylic and urethane based white paints have 93% blackbody radiation efficiency at room temperature (meaning the term "black body" does not always correspond to the visually perceived color of an object). These materials that do not follow the "black color = high emissivity/absorptivity" caveat will most likely have functional spectral emissivity/absorptivity dependence.
Calculation of radiative heat transfer between groups of object, including a 'cavity' or 'surroundings' requires solution of a set of simultaneous equations using the radiosity method. In these calculations, the geometrical configuration of the problem is distilled to a set of numbers called view factors, which give the proportion of radiation leaving any given surface that hits another specific surface. These calculations are important in the fields of solar thermal energy, boiler and furnace design and raytraced computer graphics.
A comparison of a thermal image (top) and an ordinary photograph (bottom) shows that a trash bag is transparent, but glass (the man's spectacles) is opaque in long-wavelength infrared.
A selective surface can be used when energy is being extracted from the sun. For instance, when a green house is made, most of the roof and walls are made out of glass. Glass is transparent in the visible (approximately 0.4 µm<λ<0.8 µm) and near-infrared wavelengths, but opaque to mid- to far-wavelength infrared (approximately λ>3 µm). Therefore, glass lets in radiation in the visible range, allowing us to be able to see through it, but does not let out radiation that is emitted from objects at or close to room temperature. This traps what we feel as heat. This is known as the greenhouse effect and can be observed by getting into a car that has been sitting in the sun. Selective surfaces can also be used on solar collectors. We can find out how much help a selective surface coating is by looking at the equilibrium temperature of a plate that is being heated through solar radiation. If the plate is receiving a solar irradiation of 1350 W/m² (minimum is 1325 W/m² on July 4 and maximum is 1418 W/m² on January 3) from the sun the temperature of the plate where the radiation leaving is equal to the radiation being received by the plate is 393 K (248 °F). If the plate has a selective surface with an emissivity of 0.9 and a cut off wavelength of 2.0 µm, the equilibrium temperature is approximately 1250 K (1790 °F). The calculations were made neglecting convective heat transfer and neglecting the solar irradiation absorbed in the clouds/atmosphere for simplicity, the theory is still the same for an actual problem.
To reduce the heat transfer from a surface, such as a glass window, a clear reflective film with a low emissivity coating can be placed on the interior of the surface. “Low-emittance (low-E) coatings are microscopically thin, virtually invisible, metal or metallic oxide layers deposited on a window or skylight glazing surface primarily to reduce the U-factor by suppressing radiative heat flow”. By adding this coating we are limiting the amount of radiation that leaves the window thus increasing the amount of heat that is retained inside the window.
Since any electromagnetic radiation, including thermal radiation, conveys momentum as well as energy, thermal radiation also induces very small forces on the radiating or absorbing objects. Normally these forces are negligible, but they must be taken into account when considering spacecraft navigation. The Pioneer anomaly, where the motion of the craft slightly deviated from that expected from gravity alone, was eventually tracked down to asymmetric thermal radiation from the spacecraft. Similarly, the orbits of asteroids are perturbed since the asteroid absorbs solar radiation on the side facing the sun, but then re-emits the energy at a different angle as the rotation of the asteroid carries the warm surface out of the sun's view (the YORP effect).
or instead of per unit frequency, per unit wavelength as
This formula mathematically follows from calculation of spectral distribution of energy in quantized electromagnetic field which is in complete thermal equilibrium with the radiating object. Plancks law shows that radiative energy increases with temperature, and explains why the peak of an emission spectrum shifts to shorter wavelengths at higher temperatures. It can also be found that energy emitted at shorter wavelengths increases more rapidly with temperature relative to longer wavelengths. The equation is derived as an infinite sum over all possible frequencies in a semi-sphere region. The energy, , of each photon is multiplied by the number of states available at that frequency, and the probability that each of those states will be occupied.
Integrating the above equation over the power output given by the Stefan–Boltzmann law is obtained, as:
The wavelength , for which the emission intensity is highest, is given by Wien's displacement law as:
For surfaces which are not black bodies, one has to consider the (generally frequency dependent) emissivity factor . This factor has to be multiplied with the radiation spectrum formula before integration. If it is taken as a constant, the resulting formula for the power output can be written in a way that contains as a factor:
This type of theoretical model, with frequency-independent emissivity lower than that of a perfect black body, is often known as a grey body. For frequency-dependent emissivity, the solution for the integrated power depends on the functional form of the dependence, though in general there is no simple expression for it. Practically speaking, if the emissivity of the body is roughly constant around the peak emission wavelength, the gray body model tends to work fairly well since the weight of the curve around the peak emission tends to dominate the integral.
Definitions of constants used in the above equations:
|Planck's constant||6.626 069 3(11)×10−34 J·s = 4.135 667 43(35)×10−15 eV·s|
|Wien's displacement constant||2.897 768 5(51)×10−3 m·K|
|Boltzmann constant||1.380 650 5(24)×10−23 J·K−1 = 8.617 343 (15)×10−5 eV·K−1|
|Stefan–Boltzmann constant||5.670 373 (21)×10−8 W·m−2·K−4|
|Speed of light||299 792 458 m·s−1|
Definitions of variables, with example values:
|Absolute temperature||For units used above, must be in kelvins (e.g. average surface temperature on Earth = 288 K)|
|Surface area||Acuboid = 2ab + 2bc + 2ac;|
Acylinder = 2π·r(h + r);
Asphere = 4π·r2
The net radiative heat transfer from one surface to another is the radiation leaving the first surface for the other minus that arriving from the second surface.
where is surface area, is energy flux (the rate of emission per unit surface area) and is the view factor from surface 1 to surface 2. Applying both the reciprocity rule for view factors, , and the Stefan–Boltzmann law, , yields:
where and are the emissivities of the surfaces.
Formulas for radiative heat transfer can be derived for more particular or more elaborate physical arrangements, such as between parallel plates, concentric spheres and the internal surfaces of a cylinder.
Thermal Infrared Remote Sensing:
The effects of a nuclear explosion on its immediate vicinity are typically much more destructive and multifaceted than those caused by conventional explosives. In most cases, the energy released from a nuclear weapon detonated within the troposphere can be approximately divided into four basic categories:
the blast itself: 40–50% of total energy
thermal radiation: 30–50% of total energy
ionizing radiation: 5% of total energy (more in a neutron bomb)
residual radiation: 5–10% of total energy with the mass of the explosionDepending on the design of the weapon and the location in which it is detonated, the energy distributed to any one of these categories may be significantly higher or lower. The blast effect is created by the coupling of immense amounts of energy, spanning the electromagnetic spectrum, with the surroundings. The environment of the explosion (e.g. submarine, ground burst, air burst, or exo-atmospheric) determines how much energy is distributed to the blast and how much to radiation. In general, surrounding a bomb with denser media, such as water, absorbs more energy and creates more powerful shockwaves while at the same time limiting the area of its effect. When a nuclear weapon is surrounded only by air, lethal blast and thermal effects proportionally scale much more rapidly than lethal radiation effects as explosive yield increases. The physical-damage mechanisms of a nuclear weapon (blast and thermal radiation) are identical to those of conventional explosives, but the energy produced by a nuclear explosion is usually millions of times more powerful per unit mass and temperatures may briefly reach the tens of millions of degrees.
Energy from a nuclear explosion is initially released in several forms of penetrating radiation. When there is a surrounding material such as air, rock, or water, this radiation interacts with and rapidly heats the material to an equilibrium temperature (i.e. so that the matter is at the same temperature as the fuel powering the explosion). This causes vaporization of the surrounding material, resulting in its rapid expansion. Kinetic energy created by this expansion contributes to the formation of a shockwave. When a nuclear detonation occurs in air near sea level, much of the released energy interacts with the atmosphere and creates a shockwave which expands spherically from the center. Intense thermal radiation at the hypocenter forms a nuclear fireball which, if the burst is low enough, is often associated with a mushroom cloud. In a high-altitude burst, where the density of the atmosphere is low, more energy is released as ionizing gamma radiation and X-rays than as an atmosphere-displacing shockwave.
In 1942, there was some initial speculation among the scientists developing the first nuclear weapons that a large enough nuclear explosion might ignite the Earth's atmosphere. This notion concerned the nuclear reaction of two atmospheric nitrogen atoms forming a carbon and an oxygen atom, with an associated release of energy. The scientists hypothesized that this energy would heat up the remaining atmospheric nitrogen enough to keep the reaction going until all nitrogen atoms were consumed, thereby burning all of the Earth's atmosphere (which is composed of nearly 80% diatomic nitrogen) in one single massive combustion event. Hans Bethe was assigned the task of studying this hypothesis in the very early days, and eventually concluded that combustion of the entire atmosphere was not possible: the cooling of the fireball due to an inverse Compton effect all but guaranteed that such a scenario would not become a reality. Richard Hamming, a mathematician, was asked to make a similar calculation just before Trinity, with the same result. Nevertheless, the notion has persisted as a rumor for many years and was the source of gallows humor at the Trinity test.Emissivity
The emissivity of the surface of a material is its effectiveness in emitting energy as thermal radiation. Thermal radiation is electromagnetic radiation and it may include both visible radiation (light) and infrared radiation, which is not visible to human eyes. The thermal radiation from very hot objects (see photograph) is easily visible to the eye. Quantitatively, emissivity is the ratio of the thermal radiation from a surface to the radiation from an ideal black surface at the same temperature as given by the Stefan–Boltzmann law. The ratio varies from 0 to 1. The surface of a perfect black body (with an emissivity of 1) emits thermal radiation at the rate of approximately 448 watts per square metre at room temperature (25 °C, 298.15 K); all real objects have emissivities less than 1.0, and emit radiation at correspondingly lower rates.Emissivities are important in several contexts:
Insulated windows – Warm surfaces are usually cooled directly by air, but they also cool themselves by emitting thermal radiation. This second cooling mechanism is important for simple glass windows, which have emissivities close to the maximum possible value of 1.0. "Low-E windows" with transparent low emissivity coatings emit less thermal radiation than ordinary windows. In winter, these coatings can halve the rate at which a window loses heat compared to an uncoated glass window.
Solar heat collectors – Similarly, solar heat collectors lose heat by emitting thermal radiation. Advanced solar collectors incorporate selective surfaces that have very low emissivities. These collectors waste very little of the solar energy through emission of thermal radiation.
Thermal shielding – For the protection of structures from high surface temperatures, such as reusable spacecraft or hypersonic aircraft, high emissivity coatings (HECs), with emissivity values near 0.9, are applied on the surface of insulating ceramics . This facilitates radiative cooling and protection of the underlying structure and is an alternative to ablative coatings, used in single-use reentry capsules.
Planetary temperatures – The planets are solar thermal collectors on a large scale. The temperature of a planet's surface is determined by the balance between the heat absorbed by the planet from sunlight, heat emitted from its core, and thermal radiation emitted back into space. Emissivity of a planet is determined by the nature of its surface and atmosphere.
Temperature measurements – Pyrometers and infrared cameras are instruments used to measure the temperature of an object by using its thermal radiation; no actual contact with the object is needed. The calibration of these instruments involves the emissivity of the surface that's being measured.Erythema ab igne
Erythema ab igne (EAI), also known as hot water bottle rash, is a skin condition caused by long-term exposure to heat (infrared radiation). Prolonged thermal radiation exposure to the skin can lead to the development of reticulated erythema, hyperpigmentation, scaling and telangiectasias in the affected area. Some people may complain of mild itchiness and a burning sensation, but often, unless a change in pigmentation is seen, it can go unnoticed.Far-infrared astronomy
Far-infrared astronomy is the branch of astronomy and astrophysics that deals with objects visible in far-infrared radiation (extending from 30 µm towards submillimeter wavelengths around 450 µm).In the far-infrared, stars are not especially bright, but emission from very cold matter (140 Kelvin or less) can be observed that is not seen at shorter wavelengths. This is due to thermal radiation of interstellar dust contained in molecular clouds.These emissions are from dust in circumstellar envelopes around numerous old red giant stars. The Bolocam Galactic Plane Survey mapped the galaxy for the first time in the far-infrared.Heat transfer
Heat transfer is a discipline of thermal engineering that concerns the generation, use, conversion, and exchange of thermal energy (heat) between physical systems. Heat transfer is classified into various mechanisms, such as thermal conduction, thermal convection, thermal radiation, and transfer of energy by phase changes. Engineers also consider the transfer of mass of differing chemical species, either cold or hot, to achieve heat transfer. While these mechanisms have distinct characteristics, they often occur simultaneously in the same system.
Heat conduction, also called diffusion, is the direct microscopic exchange of kinetic energy of particles through the boundary between two systems. When an object is at a different temperature from another body or its surroundings, heat flows so that the body and the surroundings reach the same temperature, at which point they are in thermal equilibrium. Such spontaneous heat transfer always occurs from a region of high temperature to another region of lower temperature, as described in the second law of thermodynamics.
Heat convection occurs when bulk flow of a fluid (gas or liquid) carries heat along with the flow of matter in the fluid. The flow of fluid may be forced by external processes, or sometimes (in gravitational fields) by buoyancy forces caused when thermal energy expands the fluid (for example in a fire plume), thus influencing its own transfer. The latter process is often called "natural convection". All convective processes also move heat partly by diffusion, as well. Another form of convection is forced convection. In this case the fluid is forced to flow by use of a pump, fan or other mechanical means.
Thermal radiation occurs through a vacuum or any transparent medium (solid or fluid or gas). It is the transfer of energy by means of photons in electromagnetic waves governed by the same laws.Incandescence
Incandescence is the emission of electromagnetic radiation (including visible light) from a hot body as a result of its temperature. The term derives from the Latin verb incandescere, to glow white.Incandescence is a special case of thermal radiation. Incandescence usually refers specifically to visible light, while thermal radiation refers also to infrared or any other electromagnetic radiation.
For information on the intensity and spectrum (color) of incandescence, see thermal radiation.Infrared sensing in snakes
The ability to sense infrared thermal radiation evolved independently in two different groups of snakes, Boidae (boas and pythons) and Crotalinae (pit vipers). It allows these animals to essentially "see" radiant heat at wavelengths between 5 and 30 μm. The more advanced infrared sense of pit vipers allows these animals to strike prey accurately even in the absence of light, and detect warm objects from several meters away. It was previously thought that the organs evolved primarily as prey detectors, but recent evidence suggests that it may also be used in thermoregulation and predator detection, making it a more general-purpose sensory organ than was supposed.Infrared thermometer
An infrared thermometer is a thermometer which infers temperature from a portion of the thermal radiation sometimes called black-body radiation emitted by the object being measured. They are sometimes called laser thermometers as a laser is used to help aim the thermometer, or non-contact thermometers or temperature guns, to describe the device's ability to measure temperature from a distance. By knowing the amount of infrared energy emitted by the object and its emissivity, the object's temperature can often be determined within a certain range of its actual temperature. Infrared thermometers are a subset of devices known as "thermal radiation thermometers".
Sometimes, especially near ambient temperatures, readings may be subject to error due to the reflection of radiation from a hotter body—even the person holding the instrument — rather than radiated by the object being measured, and to an incorrect assumed emissivity.
The design essentially consists of a lens to focus the infrared thermal radiation on to a detector, which converts the radiant power to an electrical signal that can be displayed in units of temperature after being compensated for ambient temperature. This permits temperature measurement from a distance without contact with the object to be measured. A non-contact infrared thermometer is useful for measuring temperature under circumstances where thermocouples or other probe-type sensors cannot be used or do not produce accurate data for a variety of reasons.Kirchhoff's law of thermal radiation
In heat transfer, Kirchhoff's law of thermal radiation refers to wavelength-specific radiative emission and absorption by a material body in thermodynamic equilibrium, including radiative exchange equilibrium.
A body at temperature T radiates electromagnetic energy. A perfect black body in thermodynamic equilibrium absorbs all light that strikes it, and radiates energy according to a unique law of radiative emissive power for temperature T, universal for all perfect black bodies. Kirchhoff's law states that:
Here, the dimensionless coefficient of absorption (or the absorptivity) is the fraction of incident light (power) that is absorbed by the body when it is radiating and absorbing in thermodynamic equilibrium.
In slightly different terms, the emissive power of an arbitrary opaque body of fixed size and shape at a definite temperature can be described by a dimensionless ratio, sometimes called the emissivity: the ratio of the emissive power of the body to the emissive power of a black body of the same size and shape at the same fixed temperature. With this definition, Kirchhoff's law states, in simpler language:
In some cases, emissive power and absorptivity may be defined to depend on angle, as described below. The condition of thermodynamic equilibrium is necessary in the statement, because the equality of emissivity and absorptivity often does not hold when the material of the body is not in thermodynamic equilibrium.
Kirchhoff's law has another corollary: the emissivity cannot exceed one (because the absorptivity cannot, by conservation of energy), so it is not possible to thermally radiate more energy than a black body, at equilibrium. In negative luminescence the angle and wavelength integrated absorption exceeds the material's emission, however, such systems are powered by an external source and are therefore not in thermodynamic equilibrium.Non-ionizing radiation
Non-ionizing (or non-ionising) radiation refers to any type of electromagnetic radiation that does not carry enough energy per quantum (photon energy) to ionize atoms or molecules—that is, to completely remove an electron from an atom or molecule. Instead of producing charged
ions when passing through matter, non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation has sufficient energy only for excitation, the movement of an electron to a higher energy state. Ionizing radiation which has a higher frequency and shorter wavelength than nonionizing radiation, has many uses but can be a health hazard; exposure to it can cause burns, radiation sickness, cancer, and genetic damage. Using ionizing radiation requires elaborate radiological protection measures which in general are not required with nonionizing radiation.
The region at which radiation becomes considered as "ionizing" is not well defined, since different molecules and atoms ionize at different energies. The usual definitions have suggested that radiation with particle or photon energies less than 10 electronvolts (eV) be considered non-ionizing. Another suggested threshold is 33 electronvolts, which is the energy needed to ionize water molecules. The light from the Sun that reaches the earth is largely composed of non-ionizing radiation, since the ionizing far-ultraviolet rays have been filtered out by the gases in the atmosphere, particularly oxygen. The remaining ultraviolet radiation from the Sun causes molecular damage (for example, sunburn) by photochemical and free-radical-producing means.Different biological effects are observed for different types of non-ionizing radiation. The upper frequencies of non-ionizing radiation near these energies (much of the spectrum of UV light and some visible light) are capable of non-thermal biological damage, similar to ionizing radiation. Health debate therefore centers on the non-thermal effects of radiation of much lower frequencies (microwave, millimeter and radiowave radiation). The International Agency for Research on Cancer recently stated that there could be some risk from non-ionizing radiation to humans. But a subsequent study reported that the basis of the IARC evaluation was not consistent with observed incidence trends. This and other reports suggest that there is virtually no way that results on which the IARC based its conclusions are correct. The Bioinitiative Report 2012 makes the claim that there are significant health risk associated with low frequency non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation. This report claims that statistically significant increases in cancer among those exposed to even low power levels, low frequency, non-ionizing radiation. There is considerable debate on this matter. Currently regulatory bodies around the world have not seen the need to change current safety standards.Orbital decay
In orbital mechanics, decay is a gradual decrease of the distance between two orbiting bodies at their closest approach (the periapsis) over many orbital periods. These orbiting bodies can be a planet and its satellite, a star and any object orbiting it, or components of any binary system. Orbits do not decay without some friction-like mechanism which transfers energy from the orbital motion. This can be any of a number of mechanical, gravitational, or electromagnetic effects. For bodies in a low Earth orbit, the most significant effect is the atmospheric drag.
If left unchecked, the decay eventually results in termination of the orbit when the smaller object strikes the surface of the primary; or for objects where the primary has an atmosphere, the smaller object burns, explodes, or otherwise breaks up in the larger object's atmosphere; or for objects where the primary is a star, ends with incineration by the star's radiation (such as for comets), and so on.
Collisions of stellar-mass objects usually produce cataclysmic effects, such as gamma-ray bursts.
Due to atmospheric drag, the lowest altitude above the Earth at which an object in a circular orbit can complete at least one full revolution without propulsion is approximately 150 km (90 mi).Planck's law
Planck's law describes the spectral density of electromagnetic radiation emitted by a black body in thermal equilibrium at a given temperature T, when there is no net flow of matter or energy between the body and its environment.At the end of the 19th century, physicists were unable to explain why the observed spectrum of black body radiation, which by then had been accurately measured, diverged significantly at higher frequencies from that predicted by existing theories. In 1900, Max Planck heuristically derived a formula for the observed spectrum by assuming that a hypothetical electrically charged oscillator in a cavity that contained black-body radiation could only change its energy in a minimal increment, E, that was proportional to the frequency of its associated electromagnetic wave. This resolved the problem of the ultraviolet catastrophe predicted by classical physics.
It was a pioneering insight of modern physics and is of fundamental importance to quantum theory.Pyrometer
A pyrometer is a type of remote-sensing thermometer used to measure the temperature of a surface. Various forms of pyrometers have historically existed. In the modern usage, it is a device that from a distance determines the temperature of a surface from the amount of the thermal radiation it emits, a process known as pyrometry and sometimes radiometry.
The word pyrometer comes from the Greek word for fire, "πῦρ" (pyr), and meter, meaning to measure. The word pyrometer was originally coined to denote a device capable of measuring the temperature of an object by its incandescence, visible light emitted by a body which is at least red-hot. Modern pyrometers or infrared thermometers also measure the temperature of cooler objects, down to room temperature, by detecting their infrared radiation flux.Radiator
Radiators are heat exchangers used to transfer thermal energy from one medium to another for the purpose of cooling and heating. The majority of radiators are constructed to function in automobiles, buildings, and electronics. The radiator is always a source of heat to its environment, although this may be for either the purpose of heating this environment, or for cooling the fluid or coolant supplied to it, as for engine cooling. Despite the name, most radiators transfer the bulk of their heat via convection instead of thermal radiation.
The Roman hypocaust is an early example of a type of radiator for building space heating. Franz San Galli, a Prussian-born Russian businessman living in St. Petersburg, is credited with inventing the heating radiator around 1855, having received a radiator patent in 1857, but American Joseph Nason developed a primitive radiator in 1841 and received a number of U.S. patents for hot water and steam heating.Stefan–Boltzmann constant
The Stefan–Boltzmann constant (also Stefan's constant), a physical constant denoted by the Greek letter σ (sigma), is the constant of proportionality in the Stefan–Boltzmann law: "the total intensity radiated over all wavelengths increases as the temperature increases", of a black body which is proportional to the fourth power of the thermodynamic temperature. The theory of thermal radiation lays down the theory of quantum mechanics, by using physics to relate to molecular, atomic and sub-atomic levels. Slovenian physicist Josef Stefan formulated the constant in 1879, and it was later derived in 1884 by Austrian physicist Ludwig Boltzmann. The equation can also be derived from Planck's law, by integrating over all wavelengths at a given temperature, which will represent a small flat black body box. "The amount of thermal radiation emitted increases rapidly and the principal frequency of the radiation becomes higher with increasing temperatures". The Stefan–Boltzmann constant can be used to measure the amount of heat that is emitted by a blackbody, which absorbs all of the radiant energy that hits it, and will emit all the radiant energy. Furthermore, the Stefan–Boltzmann constant allows for temperature (K) to be converted to units for intensity (W⋅m−2), which is power per unit area.
The value of the Stefan–Boltzmann constant is given in SI units by
In cgs units the Stefan–Boltzmann constant is:
In thermochemistry the Stefan–Boltzmann constant is often expressed in cal⋅cm−2⋅day−1⋅K−4:
In US customary units the Stefan–Boltzmann constant is:
The value of the Stefan–Boltzmann constant is derivable as well as experimentally determinable; see Stefan–Boltzmann law for details. It can be defined in terms of the Boltzmann constant as
The CODATA recommended value is calculated from the measured value of the gas constant:
Dimensional formula: M1T−3Θ−4
A related constant is the radiation constant (or radiation density constant) a which is given by:
Susceptor is a material used for its ability to absorb electromagnetic energy and convert it to heat (which is sometimes designed to be re-emitted as infrared thermal radiation). The electromagnetic energy is typically radiofrequency or microwave radiation used in industrial heating processes, and also in microwave cooking. The name is derived from susceptance, an electrical property of materials that measures their tendency to convert electromagnetic energy to heat.Thermal insulation
Thermal insulation is the reduction of heat transfer (i.e. the transfer of thermal energy between objects of differing temperature) between objects in thermal contact or in range of radiative influence. Thermal insulation can be achieved with specially engineered methods or processes, as well as with suitable object shapes and materials.
Heat flow is an inevitable consequence of contact between objects of different temperature. Thermal insulation provides a region of insulation in which thermal conduction is reduced or thermal radiation is reflected rather than absorbed by the lower-temperature body.
The insulating capability of a material is measured as the inverse of thermal conductivity (k). Low thermal conductivity is equivalent to high insulating capability (Resistance value). In thermal engineering, other important properties of insulating materials are product density (ρ) and specific heat capacity (c).Wien approximation
Wien's approximation (also sometimes called Wien's law or the Wien distribution law) is a law of physics used to describe the spectrum of thermal radiation (frequently called the blackbody function). This law was first derived by Wilhelm Wien in 1896. The equation does accurately describe the short wavelength (high frequency) spectrum of thermal emission from objects, but it fails to accurately fit the experimental data for long wavelengths (low frequency) emission.
Radiation (physics and health)