What is the definition of thermal energy in science?
Thermal energy is the internal energy of an object due to the kinetic energy of its atoms and/or molecules. The atoms and/or molecules of a hotter object have greater kinetic energy than those of a colder one, in the form of vibrational, rotational, or, in the case of a gas, translational motion.
Heat energy is actually made up partly of kinetic energy and partly of potential energy. In a solid, for example, it's the kinetic energy and potential energies of the atoms as they wiggle around.
- In physical sciences, mechanical energy is the sum of potential energy and kinetic energy. It is the energy associated with the motion and position of an object. In elastic collisions, the mechanical energy is conserved but in inelastic collisions, some mechanical energy is converted into heat.
- The hotter an object is, the faster the motion of the molecules inside it. Thus, the heat of an object is the total energy of all the molecular motion inside that object. Temperature, on the other hand, is a measure of the average heat or thermal energy of the molecules in a substance.
- 4.2: The transfer of thermal energy as heat requires a difference in temperature between the two points of transfer. Heat may be transferred by means of conduction, convection, or radiation. Conduction is the transfer of thermal energy (heat in transfer) due to collisions between the molecules in the object.
Updated: 7th December 2019