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Black-body radiation is the thermal electromagnetic radiation within or surrounding a body

in thermodynamic equilibrium with its environment, or emitted by a black body (an opaque and

non-reflective body). It has a specific spectrum and intensity that depends only on the body's

temperature, which is assumed for the sake of calculations and theory to be uniform and


The thermal radiation spontaneously emitted by many ordinary objects can be approximated as

black-body radiation. A perfectly insulated enclosure that is in thermal equilibrium internally

contains black-body radiation and will emit it through a hole made in its wall, provided the hole

is small enough to have negligible effect upon the equilibrium.

A black-body at room temperature appears black, as most of the energy it radiates is infra-

red and cannot be perceived by the human eye. Because the human eye cannot perceive color at

very low light intensities, a black body, viewed in the dark at the lowest just faintly visible

temperature, subjectively appears grey (but only because the human eye is sensitive only to black

and white at very low intensities - in reality, the frequency of the light in the visible range would

still be red, although the intensity would be too low to discern as red), even though its objective

physical spectrum peaks in the infrared range. When it becomes a little hotter, it appears dull red.

As its temperature increases further it eventually becomes blue-white.

Although planets and stars are neither in thermal equilibrium with their surroundings nor

perfect black bodies, black-body radiation is used as a first approximation for the energy they
emit. Black holes are near-perfect black bodies, in the sense that they absorb all the radiation that

falls on them. It has been proposed that they emit black-body radiation (called Hawking

radiation), with a temperature that depends on the mass of the black hole.

The term black body was introduced by Gustav Kirchhoff in 1860. Black-body radiation is also

called thermal radiation, cavity radiation, complete radiation or temperature radiation.


A black body is an idealized physical body that absorbs all incident electromagnetic radiation,

regardless of frequency or angle of incidence. A white body is one with a "rough surface that

reflects all incident rays completely and uniformly in all directions.

A black body in thermal equilibrium (that is, at a constant temperature) emits electromagnetic

radiation called black-body radiation. The radiation is emitted according to Planck's law,

meaning that it has a spectrum that is determined by the temperature alone (see figure at right),

not by the body's shape or composition.

An ideal black body in thermal equilibrium has two notable properties:

1. It is an ideal emitter: at every frequency, it emits as much or more thermal radiative

energy as any other body at the same temperature.

2. It is a diffuse emitter: the energy is radiated isotropically , independent of direction.

An approximate realization of a black surface is a hole in the wall of a large enclosure. Any light

entering the hole is reflected indefinitely or absorbed inside and is unlikely to re-emerge, making

the hole a nearly perfect absorber. The radiation confined in such an enclosure may or may not
be in thermal equilibrium, depending upon the nature of the walls and the other contents of the


Real materials emit energy at a fraction—called the emissivity—of black-body energy levels. By

definition, a black body in thermal equilibrium has an emissivity of ε = 1.0. A source with lower

emissivity independent of frequency often is referred to as a gray body. Construction of black

bodies with emissivity as close to one as possible remains a topic of current interest.

In astronomy, the radiation from stars and planets is sometimes characterized in terms of

an effective temperature, the temperature of a black body that would emit the same total flux of

electromagnetic energy.


All normal (baryonic) matter emits electromagnetic radiation when it has a temperature

above absolute zero. The radiation represents a conversion of a body's thermal energy into

electromagnetic energy, and is therefore called thermal radiation. It is a spontaneous processof

radiative distribution of entropy.

Conversely all normal matter absorbs electromagnetic radiation to some degree. An object that

absorbs all radiation falling on it, at all wavelengths, is called a black body. When a black body

is at a uniform temperature, its emission has a characteristic frequency distribution that depends

on the temperature. Its emission is called black-body radiation.

The concept of the black body is an idealization, as perfect black bodies do not exist in

nature. Graphite and lamp black, with emissivities greater than 0.95, however, are good

approximations to a black material. Experimentally, black-body radiation may be established

best as the ultimately stable steady state equilibrium radiation in a cavity in a rigid body, at a
uniform temperature, that is entirely opaque and is only partly reflective. A closed box of

graphite walls at a constant temperature with a small hole on one side produces a good

approximation to ideal black-body radiation emanating from the opening. Black-body radiation

has the unique absolutely stable distribution of radiative intensity that can persist in

thermodynamic equilibrium in a cavity. In equilibrium, for each frequency the total intensity of

radiation that is emitted and reflected from a body (that is, the net amount of radiation leaving its

surface, called the spectral radiance) is determined solely by the equilibrium temperature, and

does not depend upon the shape, material or structure of the body. For a black body (a perfect

absorber) there is no reflected radiation, and so the spectral radiance is due entirely to emission.

In addition, a black body is a diffuse emitter (its emission is independent of direction).

Consequently, black-body radiation may be viewed as the radiation from a black body at thermal



1).Planck's law of blackbody radiation:-

The quantity of energy emitted by a true blackbody only depends on its temperature. This

radiation level, named Radiant Emittance R, is defined by the following distribution discovered

in 1900 by the German scientist, Max Planck:

h is the Planck’s constant ( h=6.626 x 1034 Js)

K is the Boltzmann’s constant( K=1.381 x 10-23 J/K)

c is the speed of light ( c=2.998 x 108 m/s)

λ is the wavelength (in meters)

T is the temperature of the blackbody in Kelvin: T (Kelvin) = 273,16 + t (Celsius degree).

2).wien’s displacement law:-

Wien’s law, also called Wien’s displacement law, relationship between the temperature of

a blackbody (an ideal substance that emits and absorbs all frequencies of light) and the

wavelength at which it emits the most light. It is named after German physicist Wilhelm Wien,

who received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1911 for discovering the law.
Wien studied the wavelength or frequency distribution of blackbody radiation in the 1890s. It

was his idea to use as a good approximation for the ideal blackbody an oven with a small hole.

Any radiation that enters the small hole is scattered and reflected from the inner walls of the

oven so often that nearly all incoming radiation is absorbed and the chance of some of it finding

its way out of the hole again can be made exceedingly small. The radiation coming out of this

hole is then very close to the equilibrium blackbody electromagnetic radiation corresponding to

the oven temperature. Wien found that the radiative energy dW per wavelength interval dλ has a

maximum at a certain wavelength λm and that the maximum shifts to shorter wavelengths as the

temperature T is increased. He found that the product λmT is an absolute constant: λmT = 0.2898

centimetre-degree Kelvin.

Wien’s law of the shift of the radiative power maximum to higher frequencies as the temperature

is raised expresses in a quantitative form commonplace observations. Warm objects emit infrared

radiation, which is felt by the skin; near T = 950 K a dull red glow can be observed; and the

colour brightens to orange and yellow as the temperature is raised. The tungsten filament of

a light bulb is T = 2,500 K hot and emits bright light, yet the peak of its spectrum at this

temperature is still in the infrared, according to Wien’s law. The peak shifts to visible yellow

when the temperature is T = 6,000 K, like that of the Sun’s surface.

3).Stefan – Boltzmann law:-

Stefan–Boltzmann law, statement that the total radiant heat energy emitted from a surface is

proportional to the fourth power of its absolute temperature. Formulated in 1879 by Austrian

physicist Josef Stefan as a result of his experimental studies, the same law was derived in 1884

by Austrian physicist Ludwig Boltzmann from thermodynamic considerations: if E is the radiant

heat energy emitted from a unit area in one second and T is the absolute temperature (in

degrees Kelvin), then E = σT4, the Greek letter sigma (σ) representing the constant of

proportionality, called the Stefan–Boltzmann constant. This constant has the value

5.6704 × 10−8 watt per metre2∙K4. The law applies only to blackbodies, theoretical surfaces that

absorb all incident heat radiation. By the 1890’s, experimental techniques had improved

sufficiently that it was possible to make fairly precise measurements of the energy distribution in

this cavity radiation, or as we shall call it black body radiation. In 1895, at the University of

Berlin, Wien and Lummer punched a small hole in the side of an otherwise completely closed

oven, and began to measure the radiation coming out.


The beam coming out of the hole was passed through a diffraction grating, which sent the

different wavelengths/frequencies in different directions, all towards a screen. A detector was

moved up and down along the screen to find how much radiant energy was being emitted in each

frequency range. (This is a theorist’s model of the experiment—actual experimental

arrangements were much more sophisticated. For example, to make the difficult infrared

measurements higher frequency waves were eliminated by multiple reflections from quartz and

other crystals.) They found a radiation intensity/frequency curve close to this (correct one):
The visible spectrum begins at around 4.3×1014 Hz, so this oven glows deep red.

One minor point: this plot is the energy density inside the oven, which we denote by ρ(f, T),

meaning that at temperature T, the energy in Joules/m3in the frequency interval f, f +

Δf is ρ(f, T)Δf.

To find the power pumped out of the hole, bear in mind that the radiation inside the oven has

waves equally going both ways—so only half of them will come out through the hole. Also, if

the hole has area A, waves coming from the inside at an angle will see a smaller target area. The

result of these two effects is that the

radiation power from hole area A = ¼ Ac ρ(f, T).

(Detailed derivation of the ¼ is in the notes.)

They were also able to confirm both Stefan’s Law P = σT 4 and Wien’s Displacement Law by

measuring the black body curves at different temperatures, for example:

Let’s look at these curves in more detail: for low frequencies f, ρ( f, T) was found to be

proportional to f 2, a parabolic shape, but for increasing f it fell below the parabola, peaking

at fmax, then dropping quite rapidly towards zero as f increased beyond fmax.

For those low frequencies where ρ( f, T) is parabolic, doubling the temperature was found to

double the intensity of the radiation. But also at 2T the curve followed the doubled parabolic

path much further before dropping away—in fact, twice as far, and fmax(2T) = 2fmax(T).

The curve ρ( f, 2T), then, reaches eight times the height of ρ( f, T). (See the graph above.) It

also spreads over twice the lateral extent, so the area under the curve, corresponding to the total

energy radiated, increases sixteenfold on doubling the temperature: Stefan’s Law, P = σT 4.


black bodies are used as optical reference sources for optical sensors.That's why blackbodies are

also known as Infrared Reference Sources.


There is a growing interest in materials with blackbody-like attributes for radar-absorbent and

camouflage for enhanced radar invisibility. Additionally, such materials have been used as

infrared thermal detectors and solar energy collectors. In addition, they are useful in cameras and

telescopes as surfaces that are anti-reflective to reduce stray light, and for gathering information

about objects located in areas of high-contrast where such materials will absorb the light coming

from the unwanted or wrong sources.


Blackbody, in physics, an ideal black substance that absorbs all and reflects none of the radiant

energy falling on it. Lampblack, or powdered carbon, which reflects less than 2% of the radiation

falling on it, crudely approximates an ideal blackbody; a material consisting of a carpetlike

arrangement of vertically aligned carbon nanotubes was reported in 2008 to have a reflectance of

0.045%. Since a blackbody is a perfect absorber of radiant energy, by the laws of

thermodynamics it must also be a perfect emitter of radiation. The distribution according to

wavelength of the radiant energy of a blackbody radiator depends on the absolute temperature of

the blackbody and not on its internal nature or structure. As the temperature increases, the

wavelength at which the energy emitted per second is a maximum decreases. This phenomenon
can be seen in the behavior of an ordinary incandescent object, which gives off its maximum

radiation at shorter and shorter wavelengths as it becomes hotter and hotter. First it glows in long

red wavelengths, then in yellow wavelengths, and finally in short blue wavelengths. In order to

explain the spectral distribution of blackbody radiation, Max Planck developed the quantum

theory in 1901. In thermodynamics the principle of the blackbody is used to determine the nature

and amount of the energy emitted by a heated object. Black-body radiation has served as an

important source of confirmation for the big-bang theory, which holds that the universe was born

in a fiery explosion c.13.7 billion years ago (according to current calculations). According to the

theory, the explosion should have left a remnant black-body cosmic background radiation that is

uniform in all directions and has an equivalent temperature of only a few degrees Kelvin. Such a

uniform background, with a temperature of 2.7°K (see Kelvin temperature scale), was discovered

in 1964 by Arno A. Penzias and Robert L. Wilson, who were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics

in 1978 for their work. Recent data gathered by the NASA satellite Cosmic Microwave

Background Explorer (COBE) has revealed small temperature fluctuations in the radiation that

are thought to be related to the "seeds" of stars and galaxies.