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Characteristic amount of energy absorbed or released by a substance during a change in physical state that occurs without a change in temperature. Heat of fusion is the latent heat associated with melting a solid or freezing a liquid. Heat of vaporization is the latent heat associated with vapourizing a liquid or condensing (seecondensation) a vapour. For example, when water reaches its boiling point and is kept boiling, it remains at that temperature until it has all evaporated; all the heat added to the water is absorbed as latent heat of vaporization and is carried away by the escaping vapour molecules.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on latent heat, visit Britannica.com.