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The brightness and color of the extremely bright light produced by the Space Shuttle SRB's is discussed in this answer and in comments below it, though the main subject there is the dim blue light produced by LOX/LH2.

What physical process produces the radiation that makes the Shuttle's SRB exhaust so incredibly bright? Is it still blackbody radiation from particles, though they are partly aluminum based now, or is it more due to luminescence from other molecules in the exhaust?

Does the oxidant for the aluminum contain oxygen? Are there glass "soot" particles in the exhaust?

Or is there just a lot of carbon-based soot that's also produced, but the bump in temperature from the aluminum oxidation makes it so much hotter that it's so much brighter?

There is some related discussion at the question How do rocket propellant combinations rank in terms of “brightness”? as well, which currently has no accepted answer.

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  • $\begingroup$ Should I copy my answer from your question? What is wrong with Kirchhoff's law of thermal radiation and gas mantles? $\endgroup$ – Uwe Mar 25 '18 at 10:51
  • $\begingroup$ @Uwe the devil is in the details. If you can make a convincing argument that a gas mantle is a good approximation of a blackbody, that would be great. However, are you sure it is known that the radiation is from gas, and not from particles of aluminum reaction products? $\endgroup$ – uhoh Mar 28 '18 at 15:28
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    $\begingroup$ In my opinion the radiation is not from the gas, it its from solid aluminum reaction products. A gas mantle is much brighter than the gas flame alone without mantle. $\endgroup$ – Uwe Jul 30 '18 at 19:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Uwe I agree, thus the part in the question about glass "soot" (which really should be called alumina soot) versus carbon soot. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jul 30 '18 at 23:42

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