- the scattering of light by particles that are very small in relation to the wavelength of the light, and in which the intensity of the scattered light varies inversely with the fourth power of the wavelength.
Compare Mie scattering.
Origin of Rayleigh scattering
First recorded in 1935–40; named after J. W. S. Rayleigh
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
- a process in which electromagnetic radiation is elastically deflected by particles of matter, without a change of frequency but with a phase change
- The scattering of electromagnetic radiation by particles with dimensions much smaller than the wavelength of the radiation. The frequency of the radiation is not altered by this form of scattering, though the phase of the light is usually changed. Because the amount of Rayleigh scattering is greater at shorter frequencies, more scattering of the sun's rays by the Earth's atmosphere occurs on the blue end of the spectrum than at the red end, thus more blue light reaches the Earth, and the sky generally appears blue. Compare Raman effect. See also Compton effect.
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