How can there be heat in a vacuum?

I keep reading in the Physics World focus issue on vacuum technology about scientists creating high temperatures in the vacuums etc.

If heat is caused by thermal energy being radiated from particles due to their energy, then how can there be heat in a vacuum, as there are no particles present?

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it would be nice if you provided the link to the article/its abtract – Yrogirg Aug 14 '12 at 18:17
Why would that be necessary? – ODP Aug 15 '12 at 14:04
so we could see what do they mean by "high temperatures in the vacuums" – Yrogirg Aug 15 '12 at 14:08
Obviously they just said a high temperature... e.g. "setting the vacuum to temperatures of 900K" or something. Clearly. – ODP Aug 15 '12 at 14:10
"Obviously they just said a high temperature... e.g. "setting the vacuum to temperatures of 900K" or something." I bet that's exactly what they said in their published work. "We set vacuum to temperature 900K", and nothing more, that's certainly how does science works. – Yrogirg Aug 15 '12 at 17:30

Heat is not

caused by thermal energy being radiated from particles due to their energy

heat is the ramdomized (i.e. neglecting bulk flows) energy of motion in any material (including, for instance, photon gases).

Any vacuum that we can make or have access too includes a small amount of matter, and the temperature of that stuff can be measured. Not that because there is very little stuff even high temperatures do not imply a lot of heat.

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Think you've confused heat with internal energy – Benjamin Hodgson Aug 14 '12 at 22:33

Vacuum is often defined as "space entirely devoid of matter". On the other hand, in physics, we often discern matter and radiation. So there can be radiation in vacuum, and it can have a certain temperature. Of course, this depends on the definitions, and I don't think this is what was meant in the article.

By the way, you do need to give a reference - this is standard practice in science, and it makes a lot of sense - with all due respect, we can never be sure your citation is accurate, unless we have a reference. We generally do not believe each other without proof in science :-)

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there are two types of vacuum in physics. one with and one without radiation (radiation being any kind of electromagnetic interaction, or photons). Sloppy scientist call a matterless volume vacuum, although it still has radiation (and therefor contains energy). You can imagine that it is very hard to achieve a true vacuum in which only the vacuumfluctuation is happening, and no other form of ernergy or ineteraction is going on. such vacuum needs to isolate all types of radiation. at least the ones we know and detected before. luckily there are not that many high energy or low frequency radiation phenomena emitted by nature. so we can focus around the spectrum we know well. to isolate it out of our vacuum chamber.

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In the case of vacuum that you are referring to the scientists are loosely referring to the kinetic energy of the particles as their temperature: $(1/2) m v^2 = (3/2) kT$.

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Not a clue, but my guesses should be hilarious.

I've heard of cern producing huge amounts of heat in the nanosecond of the collision between particles in the super collider. Obviously if particles are present in the collision then it's not a perfect vacuum as particles are present. The reason such high temps are reached is that the particles are carrying such tremendous energy at the point of impact. (Almost speed of light if memory serves, and like I said I am no scientist.)

Following that theory, in space where you find massive temps are where there is a lot of matter. Again then Not A Vacuum. In space where there is almost no matter, temp is almost absolute zero. (Microwave background holds deep space just above it).

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protected by Emilio PisantyJun 8 at 8:27

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