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Thermal radiation of neutrons

  1. Aug 5, 2013 #1
    All bodies with a temperature emit electromagnetic radiation also known as thermal radiation or blackbody radiation. If I understand it correctly, the origin of this is the thermal motion (acceleration) of the atoms and their included positive and negative charges leads to EM radiation.

    Would a bunch of neutrons at, say, room temperature emit infrared radiation? I would think they would as "all bodies with a positive temperature emit electromagnetic radiation". But I'm at a loss to explain why.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 7, 2013 #2
    A bunch of neutrons at a finite temperature T would emit thermal radiation. We have even observed such objects: neutron stars. I believe their spectra are roughly blackbody, but of course there are many interesting effects that play into the precise form of the spectrum.

    Are you confused because a neutral particle shouldn't couple to the EM field? Remember, though, that the neutron has a nonzero magnetic dipole moment, and it is actually composed of fractionally-charged quarks. So it can couple to the EM field.
  4. Aug 7, 2013 #3
    Not only do neutrons emit electromagnetic energy [thermal energy] they actually emit electrons!! That's called beta decay. This suggests 'a neutron is a proton plus an electron combined' which is likely an over simplification that started with Rutherford.

    edit: found a brief description here:


    You can also tell a neutron has some EM character [electron like] because it has a magnetic dipole moment.
  5. Aug 7, 2013 #4
    Forgot to say: If anything emits thermal energy, its because the emitter is not in the most stable, low energy state....so it's likely that as the neutron constitutents emit EM energy they settle to a lower energy configuration.
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