List of light sources

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This is a list of sources of light, the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Light sources produce photons from another energy source, such as heat, chemical reactions, or conversion of mass or a different frequency of electromagnetic energy, and include light bulbs and stars like the Sun. Reflectors (such as the moon, cat's eyes, and mirrors) do not actually produce the light that comes from them.


Incandescence is the emission of light from a hot body as a result of its temperature.



  • Argand lamp – Type of oil lamp (obsolete)
  • Argon flash – Single-use source of very short and extremely bright flash of light
  • Carbide lamp – Acetylene-burning lamps
  • Coleman lantern – Series of pressure lamps
  • Betty lamp – Oil or grease burning lamp originating from Europe (error)[clarification needed]
  • Butter lamp – Lamps traditionally burning clarified yak butter
  • Flash-lamp – Electrically ignited photographic light source
  • Gas lighting – Type of artificial light
  • Gas mantle – Device for generating bright light when heated by a flame
  • Kerosene lamp – Type of lighting device that uses kerosene as a fuels
  • Lantern – Portable lighting devices
  • Limelight – Type of stage lighting once used in theatres and music halls (obsolete)
  • Oil lamp – Object used to produce light continuously for a period of time using an oil-based fuel sources
    Oil lamp
  • Tilley lamp – Pressurized kerosene lamps made by the Tilley company in the UK


  • Brazier – Container used to burn charcoal or other solid fuel
  • Bunsen burner – Laboratory device used to make fire from fuel and oxidizer gases
  • Candle – Wick embedded in solid flammable substance
  • Ember – A hot lump of slowly burning solid fuel, usually associated with a fires
  • Explosive – Substance that can explode
  • Fire – Rapid and hot oxidation of a material
  • Fire whirl – Whirlwind induced by and often composed of fire
    Fire whirl
  • Fireworks – Low explosive pyrotechnic devices for entertainment
  • Flamethrower – Ranged incendiary device designed to project a controllable stream of fire
  • Incandescent light bulb – Electric light with a wire filament heated until it glows
  • Muzzle flash – Light created by gunfire
  • Rubens tube – Physics apparatus for demonstrating acoustic standing waves in a tube
  • Torch – Stick with a flaming end used as a source of light

Nuclear and high-energy particle[edit]

  • Annihilation – Collision of a particle and its antiparticle
  • Nuclear reaction – Process in which two nuclei collide to produce one or more nuclides
    • Nuclear fission – Nuclear reaction splitting an atom into multiple parts
    • Nuclear fusion – Process naturally occurring in stars where atomic nucleons combine
  • Nuclear weapon – Explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions
  • Cherenkov radiation – EM waves emitted when a charged particle moves faster than light through a medium
  • Synchrotron radiation – Electromagnetic radiation emitted by charged particles accelerated perpendicular to their velocity
  • Free-electron laser – Light source producing extremely brilliant and short pulses of radiation
  • Bremsstrahlung – Electromagnetic radiation due to deceleration of charged particles

Celestial and atmospheric[edit]

Nebula and stars
Starry sky, the Milky Way, and a shooting star


Luminescence is emission of light by a substance not resulting from heat.


Bioluminescence is light resulting from biochemical reaction by a living organism.


Cathodoluminescence is light resulting from a luminescent material being struck by electrons.


Chemiluminescence glow sticks

Chemiluminescence is light resulting from a chemical reaction.


Cryoluminescence is the emission of light when an object is cooled.


Crystalloluminescence is light produced during crystallization.

Electric discharge (Electrical energy)[edit]


Electrochemiluminescence is light resulting from an electrochemical reaction.


Electroluminescence is light resulting from an electric current being passed through a substance.

Light-emitting diodes


Mechanoluminescence is light resulting from a mechanical action on a solid.

  • Triboluminescence, light generated when bonds in a material are broken when that material is scratched, crushed, or rubbed
  • Fractoluminescence, light generated when bonds in certain crystals are broken by fractures
  • Piezoluminescence, light produced by the action of pressure on certain solids
  • Sonoluminescence, light resulting from imploding bubbles in a liquid when excited by sound


Photoluminescence is light resulting from absorption of photons.

  • Fluorescence, the emission of light by a substance that has absorbed light or other electromagnetic radiation
  • Phosphorescence, the delayed re-emission of light by substance that has absorbed it



Radioluminescence is light resulting from bombardment by ionizing radiation.


Thermoluminescence is light from the re-emission of absorbed energy when a substance is heated.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]