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latent heat

latent heat, heat change associated with a change of state or phase (see states of matter). Latent heat, also called heat of transformation, is the heat given up or absorbed by a unit mass of a substance as it changes from a solid to a liquid, from a liquid to a gas, or the reverse of either of these changes. It is called latent because it is not associated with a change in temperature. Each substance has a characteristic heat of fusion, associated with the solid-liquid transition, and a characteristic heat of vaporization, associated with the liquid-gas transition. The latent heat of fusion for ice is 80 calories per gram (see calorie). This amount of heat is absorbed by each gram of ice in melting or is given up by each gram of water in freezing. The latent heat of vaporization of steam is 540 calories per gram, absorbed during vaporization or given up during condensation. For a substance going directly from the solid to the gas state, or the reverse, the heat absorbed or given up is known as the latent heat of sublimation.

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latent heat

latent heat (symbol L) Heat absorbed or given out by a substance as it changes its phase at constant temperature. When ice melts, its temperature remains the same until it has been completely transformed into water; the heat necessary to do this is called the latent heat of fusion.

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latent heat

latent heat (lay-tĕnt) n. the quantity of heat absorbed or released when a substance changes state (e.g. from solid to liquid or from liquid to vapour) without any change in temperature.

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