Fretter, William B. Formerly, Department of Physics, University of California, Berkeley, California.
Lamb, Richard C. Department of Physics, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Last reviewed:January 2020
- Direction of emission
- Cerenkov counters
- Cerenkov gamma-ray astronomy
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
Light emitted by a high-speed charged particle when the particle passes through a transparent, nonconducting, solid material at a speed greater than the speed of light in the material. The blue glow observed in the water of a nuclear reactor, close to the active fuel elements, is radiation of this kind. The emission of Cerenkov radiation is analogous to the emission of a shock wave by a projectile moving faster than sound, since in both cases the velocity of the object passing through the medium exceeds the velocity of the resulting wave disturbance in the medium. This radiation, first predicted by P. A. Cerenkov in 1934 and later substantiated theoretically by I. Frank and I. Tamm, is used as a signal for the indication of high-speed particles and as a means for measuring their energy in devices known as Cerenkov counters. See also: Shock wave
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