The term radiant energy refers to energy that travels by waves or particles, particularly electromagnetic radiation such as heat or x-rays. Radiant energy is created through electromagnetic waves and was discovered in 1885 by Sir William Crookes. Fields in which this terminology is most often used are telecommunications, heating, radiometry, lighting, and in terms of energy created from the sun. Radiant energy is measured in joules.
Virtually anything that has a temperature gives off radiant energy. Some examples of radiant energy include:
Radiant energy is a form of kinetic energy. Kinetic energy refers to the movement of the energy whether is is of atoms, molecules, waves, substances or objects. Other forms of kinetic energy include thermal energy, sound, motion energy and electrical energy. Without radiant energy, like that from the sun, life on Earth would not be possible.
Radiant energy is the result of a change in configuration of electrons. It can travel through any substance including air, liquid, glass, and space. However, matter is not necessary for transmission of radiant energy. Even in a vacuum environment, radiant energy can move.
Radiant energy moves in a straight line at a very high speed and can be absorbed, transmitted or reflected. Radiant energy is reflected if the object receiving the energy cannot absorb it. If the energy is only partially able to penetrate the object, then it is absorbed. The energy is transmitted if an object cannot absorb it.
All of these examples help to better explain the important concept of radiant energy.