EQUINOX GRAPHICS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY EQUINOX GRAPHICS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Animation showing the emission of radiation from a hypothetical black body. The numbers at lower right show the temperature in Kelvin. Celsius. Blackbody radiation is the radiation emitted by a body that depends only on its temperature. All bodies above absolute zero (0K) emit radiation, mostly in the infrared region, which is invisible to the human eye. The wavelengths emitted decrease with increasing temperature, which gives materials above about 500 degrees Celsius (773K) a red glow. As the temperature rises, the wavelength of radiation emitted gets shorter and shorter, moving the apparent colour of the body along the spectrum. This material melts at around 1600K (1337 degrees Celsius), but the radiation emitted keeps getting more energetic, moving through orange and yellow to white at more than 6000K. At this stage, much of the radiation emitted is at ultraviolet wavelengths, which are also not visible to the human eye. As less and less energy is emitted in the red part of the spectrum, the white gets bluer and bluer with increasing temperature.
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