The Super Spetrum

By william Vigo and Amanda Detmar-Salazar

How to Identify Elements in Space!

Spectroscopy is an analysis of light spectra and the way in which light interacts with matter. So in outer space there are many elements and each element has its own finger print. That fingerprint is in a form of certain wave lengths that emit and absorb light. In order to find out what element is which you would use a spectroscope and see the colors that would match the element.

Three Types of Spectra

Continuous Spectrum- Produced by glowing solid, liquid or gas under certain conditions. This spectrum consists of a continuous set of emission lines side by side, with no gaps, and appearing as a smooth transition of all colors from red to violet.


Absorption Spectrum- Produced when a cooler gas lies between to observer and an object emitting a continuous spectrum. The cooler gas absorbs specific wavelengths of radiation passing through it. This spectrum appears as a continuous spectrum of all colors with a number of gaps or dark lines through it.


Emission Spectrum- Produced by a glowing gas which radiates energy at specific wavelengths characteristic of the element or elements composing the gas. This spectrum consists of a number of bright line against a dark background. Different elements produce different spectra. These different spectra called atomic spectra and are unique enough to be thought of as a finger print of the element.