Sell, Heinz G. Metals Development Section, Westinghouse Lamp Divisions, Bloomfield, New Jersey.
Walsh, Peter J. Department of Physics, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck, New Jersey.
Last reviewed:November 2019
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An ideal energy radiator, which at any specified temperature emits in each part of the electromagnetic spectrum the maximum energy obtainable per unit time from any radiator due to its temperature alone. A blackbody also absorbs all the energy which falls upon it. The radiation properties of real radiators are limited by two extreme cases—a radiator which reflects all incident radiation, and a radiator which absorbs all incident radiation. Neither case is completely realized in nature. Carbon and soot are examples of radiators which, for practical purposes, absorb all radiation. Both appear black to the eye at room temperature, hence the name blackbody. Often a blackbody is also referred to as a total absorber. Such a total absorber constitutes a standard for the radiation of nonblackbodies, since Kirchhoff's law demands that the blackbody radiate the maximum amount of energy possible in any wavelength interval. For an extended discussion of blackbody radiation and Kirchhoff's law See also: Graybody; Heat radiation
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