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The candela (pronounced /kænˈdɛlə/ or /kænˈdiːlə/, symbol: cd) is the SI base unit of luminous intensity; that is, power emitted by a light source in a particular direction, weighted by the luminosity function (a standardized model of the sensitivity of the human eye to different wavelengths, also known as the luminous efficiency function[4][5]). A common candle emits light with a luminous intensity of roughly one candela. If emission in some directions is blocked by an opaque barrier, the emission would still be approximately one candela in the directions that are not obscured.

The word candela means candle in Latin, Spanish and Italian.



Like other SI base units, the candela has an operational definition—it is defined by a description of a physical process that will produce one candela of luminous intensity. Since the 16th General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM) in 1979, the candela has been defined as:[6]

The candela is the luminous intensity, in a given direction, of a source that emits monochromatic radiation of frequency 540×1012 hertz and that has a radiant intensity in that direction of 1683 watt per steradian.

The definition describes how to produce a light source that (by definition) emits one candela. Such a source could then be used to calibrate instruments designed to measure luminous intensity.

The candela is sometimes still called by the old name candle,[7] such as in foot-candle and the modern definition of candlepower.


The frequency chosen is in the visible spectrum near green, corresponding to a wavelength of about 555 nanometers. The human eye is most sensitive to this frequency, when adapted for bright conditions. At other frequencies, more radiant intensity is required to achieve the same luminous intensity, according to the frequency response of the human eye. The luminous intensity for light of a particular wavelength λ is given by

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