Stefan-boltzmann constant

Not to be confused with Boltzmann constant.

The Stefan–Boltzmann constant (also Stefan's constant), a physical constant denoted by the Greek letter σ, is the constant of proportionality in the Stefan–Boltzmann law: the total energy radiated per unit surface area of a black body in unit time is proportional to the fourth power of the thermodynamic temperature.

The value of the Stefan–Boltzmann constant is given in SI units by


In cgs units the Stefan–Boltzmann constant is:

\sigma \approx 5.6704 \times 10^{-5}\ \textrm{erg}\,\textrm{cm}^{-2}\,\textrm{s}^{-1}\,\textrm{K}^{-4}.

In US customary units the Stefan–Boltzmann constant is:[1]

\sigma = 0.1714 \times 10^{-8}\ \textrm{BTU}\,\textrm{hr}^{-1}\,\textrm{ft}^{-2}\,\textrm{R}^{-4}.

The value of the Stefan–Boltzmann constant is derivable as well as experimentally determinable; see Stefan–Boltzmann law for details. It can be defined in terms of the Boltzmann constant as:

\sigma = \frac{2\pi^5k_{\rm B}^4}{15h^3c^2} = \frac{\pi^2k_{\rm B}^4}{60\hbar^3c^2} = 5.670373(21) \, \cdot 10^{-8}\ \textrm{J}\,\textrm{m}^{-2}\,\textrm{s}^{-1}\,\textrm{K}^{-4}


The CODATA recommended value is calculated from the measured value of the gas constant:

\sigma = \frac{2 \pi^5 R^4}{15 h^3 c^2 N_{\rm A}^4} = \frac{32 \pi^5 h R^4 R_{\infty}^4}{15 A_{\rm r}({\rm e})^4 M_{\rm u}^4 c^6 \alpha^8}


A related constant is the radiation constant (or radiation density constant) a which is given by:[2]

a = \frac{4\sigma}{c} = 7.5657 \times 10^{-15} \textrm{erg}\,\textrm{cm}^{-3}\,\textrm{K}^{-4} = 7.5657 \times 10^{-16} \textrm{J}\,\textrm{m}^{-3}\,\textrm{K}^{-4}.

A simple rule to remember the Stefan–Boltzmann constant is to think "5-6-7-8;" and try not to forget the negative sign before the final eight.


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