Difference Between Temperature and Thermal Energy

Temperature and thermal energy both are physical properties, both are the thermodynamic state nature of an object. Yet both the terms imply a very different meaning.


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Particles present in a substance moves at different speed particles moving at a slower speed has less kinetic energy (cooler in temperature), whereas particles moving at a faster speed posses more kinetic energy (hotter in temperature).

Temperature vs Thermal Energy

The difference between temperature and thermal energy is that the temperature is not determined by the quantity of the object. Faster or slower movement of molecules is noticed depending upon the kinetic energy whereas for thermal energy the total number of particles present in an object determines its kinetic energy, therefore, the bigger the size of the object the greater the thermal energy.

Temperature vs Thermal energy

Temperature is the measure of the average kinetic energy present in the molecules of the object. Thermal energy determines the total kinetic energy of the molecules present in an object.

The quantity of the object is a key factor to determine the amount of thermal energy.


Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonSystematic ErrorRandom Error
MeaningA systematic error is an error that arises because of fault in the measuring device.A random error is an error that arises because of unpredictable changes in the environment.
RepetitiveSystematic errors are repetitive.Random errors are not generally repetitive.
CausesFlaws in the experimenting equipment.Unpredictable variations in readings, disturbances in the environment.
ReductionSystematic errors can be reduced by using the correct apparatus or proper techniques.Random errors can be reduced by taking the readings time and again and increasing the number of observations.
TypesThree types: Instrument, Environment, Systematic error.No types.
ReproducibleThese are reproducible.These are not reproducible.
Magnitude of errorConstantVary


What is Temperature?

Temperature is a physical property that signifies how hot or cold a body/object is. It characterizes the average kinetic energy of all the molecules present in an object.

The temperature of an object can be measured with the help of a thermometer. The three systems that help classify the SI unit of temperature are- celsius, kelvi, and fahrenheit.

Temperature can be often linked with two properties hot and cold. The particles present within the object determine it completely.

The speed of each particle present in the object depends on how much energy the particles contained The faster the particles move and the farther apart they are the higher the temperature. The slower the particles and the closer they are the lower the temperature.

Two bodies with different temperatures when they interact with each other, heat exchange occurs between them causing the hotter object to cool down and the cooler object to get heated up. The process of heat exchange constantly occurs and the exchange only stops when the two objects are at a similar temperature.

Temperature plays a pivotal role in all the natural science- physics, chemistry, geology, etc. hence temperature often determines the speed, scope, and intensity of any chemical reaction.


What is Thermal Energy?

Thermal energy implies the energy within an object that is responsible for temperature. It is produced when there is a rise in temperature leading the particles within the object to move faster and collide with each other.

As there is an increase in kinetic energy the thermal energy of the object increases. Hence the thermal energy of the object increases with the temperature rise.

Transfer of thermal energy is noticed when a temperature rise exists in a system of continuous matter. Thermal energy can be transferred through various elements such as conduction, convection, and radiation.

It transfers from the part of the object with a higher temperature to the part of the object with lower temperature, the process continues until the point where the temperature is equal in all parts.

thermal energy

Main Differences Between Temperature and Thermal Energy

  1. The average kinetic energy of molecules within an object is called temperature. Whereas the total kinetic energy within an object is called thermal energy.
  2. For temperature, the state can vary it can either be hot or cold but in the case of thermal energy, the temperature of the object has to be hot.
  3. Temperature can be measured in three variables namely- celsius, kineti, and fahrenheit whereas of thermal energy it can be measured in two variables- joules and calories.
  4. In case of temperature in can further vary when the object interacts with another object of different temperature and flow of molecules take place eventually resulting in the temperature of both the objects to get the same. In case of thermal energy flow of molecules take place within the object resulting in the temperature of the object to get constant throughout.
  5. Temperature is not dependent on the quantity of the object whereas thermal energy is determined through the quantity of the object.
Difference Between Temperature and Thermal Energy


  1. https://arxiv.org/pdf/1411.6584
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364032116302751
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