Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/30

This page has been validated.

We may, however, partially evade this difficulty by substituting as the object of inquiry the sun's effective temperature: i. e., instead of seeking to ascertain the actual temperature of different parts of the sun's surface, we may inquire what temperature would have to be given to a uniform surface of standard radiating power (a surface covered with lampblack is generally taken as this standard) and of the same size as the sun, in order that it might emit as much heat as the sun actually does. In this way we obtain a perfectly definite object of investigation. But the problem still remains very difficult, and has obtained as yet no entirely satisfactory solution. The difficulty lies in our ignorance as to the laws which connect the temperature of a surface with the amount of heat radiated per second. So long as the temperature of the radiating body does not much exceed that of surrounding space, the heat emitted is very nearly proportional to the excess of temperature. The extremely high values of the solar temperature asserted by Secchi and Ericsson depend upon the assumption of this law (known as Newton's) of proportionality between the heat radiated and the temperature of the radiating mass; a law which direct experiment proves to be untrue as soon as the temperature rises a little. In reality, the amount of heat radiated increases much faster than the temperature.

More than forty years' ago the French physicists Dulong and Petit, by a series of elaborate experiments, deduced an empirical formula, which answered pretty satisfactorily for temperatures up to a dull-red heat. By applying this formula, Pouillet and Vicaire and others arrived at the low solar temperatures assigned by them. It is, however, evidently unsafe to apply a purely empirical formula to circumstances so far outside the range of the observations upon which it was founded, and, in fact, within a few years several experimenters, Rosetti especially, have shown that it needs modification even in the investigation of artificial temperatures, like that of the electric arc. Rosetti, from his observations, has deduced a different law of radiation, and by its application finds 10,000° Cent, or 18,000° Fahr. as the effective temperature of the sun; a result which, all things considered, seems more reasonable and better founded than any of the earlier estimates. He considers that this is also pretty nearly the actual temperature of the upper layers of the photosphere. The radiating power of the photospheric clouds, to be sure, can hardly be as great as that of lampblack, but on the other hand their radiation is supplemented by that of other layers, both above and below.

Besides the data as to the intensity of the solar temperature obtained by calculation from the measured emission of heat, we have also direct evidence of a very impressive sort. When heat is concentrated by a burning-glass, the temperature at the focus can not rise above that of the source of heat, the effect of the lens being simply to move the object at the focus virtually toward the sun; so that, if we neglect the