Vacuum friction in rotating particles

Phys Rev Lett. 2010 Sep 10;105(11):113601. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.105.113601. Epub 2010 Sep 8.


We study the frictional torque acting on particles rotating in empty space. At zero temperature, vacuum friction transforms mechanical energy into light emission and produces particle heating. However, particle cooling relative to the environment occurs at finite temperatures and low rotation velocities. Radiation emission is boosted and its spectrum significantly departed from a hot-body emission profile as the velocity increases. Stopping times ranging from hours to billions of years are predicted for materials, particle sizes, and temperatures accessible to experiment. Implications for the behavior of cosmic dust are discussed.