Spectroscopy is Awesome!!!

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What is Spectroscopy? Why is it important?

Spectroscopy is scientific measurement technique that measures light that is emitted, absorbed, or scattered by materials. It is important because it is is commonly used to infer the physical properties of the material (such as temperature, mass, luminosity, and composition). Spectra is visible through a spectroscope, which separates white light from a star into a very wide spectrum of colors.

What are the three types of spectra?

  • Continuous Spectrum: contains unbroken bands of color (comes from glowing solid or hot compressed gas)


  • Emission Spectrum: contains unevenly spaced colors that appear on a black background (comes from glowing gas sending certain wavelengths)


  • Absorption Spectrum: contains unevenly spaced dark lines that appear on a colored background (occurs when hot gas passes through the cooler outer layer of a star)

How does spectroscopy help to identify elements in stars? How is this helpful for astronomers?

Each element of a star gives off its own color, which can be used to identify an elements wavelength and frequency. By looking at the pattern of lines in different spectra, astronomers can figure out the energy levels of the elements in the sample. Since every element has unique energy levels, the spectra can help identify elements in a sample. Some examples are listed below.
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