Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

2015 Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, William M. Irvine, Ricardo Amils, Henderson James (Jim) CleavesII, Daniele L. Pinti, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Daniel Rouan, Tilman Spohn, Stéphane Tirard, Michel Viso

Radiation Pressure

  • Henderson James (Jim) CleavesIIEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-662-44185-5_1334


In astronomy and physics, radiation pressure is pressure exerted upon a surface exposed to electromagnetic radiation. The pressure is the power flux density divided by the speed of light if it is absorbed. If the radiation is reflected, the radiation pressure is doubled. Radiation pressure is about 10−5 Pa at Earth’s distance from the Sun and decreases by the square of the distance from the Sun. Though weak, such pressures produce significant effects on small particles like ions, electrons and cometary dust particles.

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Earth–Life Science Institute (ELSI)Tokyo Institute of TechnologyMeguro–kuJapan
  2. 2.Institute for Advanced StudyPrincetonUSA
  3. 3.Blue Marble Space Institute of ScienceWashingtonUSA
  4. 4.Center for Chemical EvolutionGeorgia Institute of TechnologyAtlantaUSA