A black body is an idealization in physics that pictures a body that absorbs all electromagnetic radiation incident on it irrespective of its frequency or angle.
What is Black Body Radiation?
To stay in thermal equilibrium, a black body must emit radiation at the same rate as it absorbs, and so it must also be a good emitter of radiation, emitting electromagnetic waves of as many frequencies as it can absorb, i.e. all the frequencies. The radiation emitted by the blackbody is known as blackbody radiation.
Characteristics of Blackbody Radiation
The characteristics of the blackbody radiation are explained with the help of the following laws:
- Wien’s displacement law
- Planck’s law
- Stefan-Boltzmann law
Wien’s Displacement Law
Wien’s displacement law states that
The blackbody radiation curve for different temperatures peaks at a wavelength is inversely proportional to the temperature.
Wien’s Law Formula
|Wien’s Law Formula||
Using Planck’s law of blackbody radiation, the spectral density of the emission is determined for each wavelength at a particular temperature.
Planck’s Law Formula
The Stefan-Boltzmann law explains the relationship between total energy emitted and the absolute temperature.
Stefan-Boltzmann Law Formula
E ∝ T4
Wien’s Displacement Law Example
- We can easily deduce that a wood fire which is approximately 1500K hot, gives out peak radiation at 2000 nm. This means that the majority of the radiation from the wood fire is beyond the human eye’s visibility. This is why a campfire is an excellent source of warmth but a very poor source of light.
- The temperature of the sun’s surface is 5700 K. Using the Wien displacement law, we can calculate the peak radiation output at a wavelength of 500 nm. This lies in the green portion of the visible light spectrum. It turns out that our eyes are highly sensitive to this particular wavelength of visible light. We really should be appreciative that a rather unusually large portion of the sun’s radiation falls in a fairly small visible spectrum.
- When a piece of metal is heated, it first becomes ‘red hot’. This is the longest visible wavelength. One further heating, it moves from red to orange and then yellow. At its hottest, the metal will be seen to be glowing white. These are the shorter wavelengths dominating the radiation.
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