AskDefine | Define emissivity

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. The energy-emitting propensity of a surface, usually measured at a specific wavelength.

Extensive Definition

The emissivity of a material (usually written \epsilon) is the ratio of energy radiated by a particular material to energy radiated by a black body at the same temperature. It is a measure of a material's ability to absorb and radiate energy. A true black body would have an \epsilon=1 while any real object would have \epsilon. Emissivity is a dimensionless quantity and does not have units.
In general, the duller and blacker a material is, the closer its emissivity is to 1. The more reflective a material is, the lower its emissivity. Highly polished silver has an emissivity of about 0.02.


This emissivity depends on factors such as temperature, emission angle, and wavelength. A typical engineering assumption is to assume that a surface's spectral emissivity and absorptivity do not depend on wavelength, so that the emissivity is a constant. This is known as the grey body assumption.
When dealing with non-black surfaces, the deviations from ideal black body behavior are determined by both the geometrical structure and the chemical composition, and follow Kirchhoff's law of thermal radiation: emissivity equals absorptivity (for an object in thermal equilibrium), so that an object that does not absorb all incident light will also emit less radiation than an ideal black body.

Emissivity of earth's atmosphere

The emissivity of Earth's atmosphere varies according to cloud cover and the concentration of gases that absorb and emit energy in the thermal infrared (i.e., wavelengths around 8 to 14 micrometres). These gases are often called greenhouse gases, from their role in the greenhouse effect. The main naturally-occurring greenhouse gases are water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, and ozone. The major constituents of the atmosphere, N2 and O2, do not absorb or emit in the thermal infrared.

Astrophysical greybody

The monochromatic flux density radiated by a greybody at frequency \nu through solid angle d\Omega is given by F_ = B_(T) Q_ d\Omega where B_ is the Planck function for a blackbody at temperature T and emissivity Q_.
For a uniform medium of optical depth \tau_ radiative transfer means that the radiation will be reduced by a factor e^ giving . The optical depth is often approximated by the ratio of the emitting frequency to the frequency where \tau=1 all raised to an exponent β. For cold dust clouds in the interstellar medium β is approximately two. Therefore Q becomes,
Emissivity between 2 walls
emissivity in Catalan: Emissivitat
emissivity in Spanish: Emisividad
emissivity in German: Emissionsgrad
emissivity in French: Émissivité
emissivity in Hebrew: אמיסיביות
emissivity in Italian: Emissività
emissivity in Portuguese: Emissividade
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1