Based on the simulation, what type of light does the Sun produce the most?
What type of light does this light bulb produce most (i.e. at what wavelength does the spectrum have maximum intensity)?
Red visible light
Violet visible light
Move the temperature slider to that of the Sun. The red part of the thermometer on the far right should just be touching the line marked Sun. Approximately what temperature is the surface of the Sun?
2100 K (3320 F)
4500 K (7640 F)
5700 K (9800 F)
9800 K (17,180 F
Green visible light
Orange visible light
Click the – button that is to the left of the intensity scale to zoom out such that the top of the scale is at 316.
Use the star shaped symbol above your graph and to the right of the blue, green, and red dots to estimate the temperature at which something will begin to glow blue. At approximately what temperature does the object gain a faint blue tint?
Note: This will also be the temperature where the max intensity of the objects spectrum is in the blue portion of the visible spectrum.
3000 K (4940 F)
6600 K (11,420 F)
7900 K (13,760 F)
Object cannot glow blue at any temperature.
Click the + button that is to the left of the intensity scale to zoom in such that the top of the scale is at 1. Now slowly decrease the temperature from 5000K down to 300K (room temperature).
Notice how the entire spectrum decreases in intensity and moves to the right into the infrared region. Even though the spectrum appears completely flat, objects at room temperature and below also emit their own light. If our eyes could detect infrared light, we would be able to see in the dark with warmer objects being brighter than others.
In the introduction of this activity, we mentioned the temperature of your home on hot and cold days. Your body is kept warm in your home primarily by two ways: by direct contact with the air around you and by absorbing infrared light that is radiated from the walls. As you have seen in this activity, the light that is radiated from an object depends almost solely on the temperature of the object. Based on what you have learned here, what is one reason for feeling warmer in your house on a summer day versus a winter day even though your thermostat is set the same?
The walls of the house are warmer during the summer. Therefore, they radiate more infrared light that can serve to warm our body.
The walls of the house are warmer during the summer. Therefore, they radiate more visible light that can serve to warm our body.
The walls of the house are warmer during the summer. Therefore, they radiate more ultraviolet (UV) light that can serve to warm our body.
The temperature of the walls of the house has no effect on the light they radiate.
As we have seen in this simulation, every blackbody emits light with an easily identified pattern known as the blackbody curve. This is the particular way the total light emitted by a blackbody varies with its frequency. The exact form of the curve depends only on the body’s temperature. Since we can treat stars as blackbodies, this is incredibly useful in astronomy that shows us that the color of a star is also indicative of its temperature.
Use the simulation to determine the surface temperature of the following star:
Betelgeuse is a red supergiant star in the constellation Orion.
Knowing that Betelgeuse has peak intensity in the red and infrared wavelengths, adjust the intensity scale and temperature until you can determine the approximate surface temperature of the star.
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