radiation pressure

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The pressure exerted on a surface by electromagnetic radiation. As radiation carries momentum as well as energy it exerts a force when it meets a surface, i.e. the photons transfer momentum when they strike the surface. The pressure is usually negligible on large bodies, for example, the pressure of radiation from the sun on the surface of the earth is of the order of 10−5 pascal, but on small bodies it can have a considerable effect, driving them away from the radiation source. Radiation pressure is also important in the interiors of stars of very high mass.

Subjects: Physics.

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