Stars are Lit

How to use a spectroscope and their importance in astronomy!

By: Alex Karanikolas and Chris Provenzano

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What is spectroscopy?

Spectroscopy is the study of the interaction between matter and electromagnetic radiation. A spectroscope breaks up the light that enters the scope into wavelengths, which are a spectra of colors. There are three different types of spectrums: absorption, emission and continuous. An absorption spectra is a black background with colored lines and shows the colors that the matter does absorb. An emission spectra is a colored background with black lines and shows the colors that the matter does not absorb. A continuous spectra is complete colors with no gaps between them. These three spectrums make up everything in the universe.

How is a spectroscope used in astronomy?

Astronomers can determine the physical properties of an object, like a star, by looking at its light through a spectroscope. The spectroscope can show the gasses that stars emit depending on what type of spectra is shown in the spectroscope. For example, astronomers have concluded that all stars are made up mostly of hydrogen with other elements. Since spectroscopy is used with light, it doesn’t matter if the light is 5 feet away or 5 light years away.


Examples of Element Spectrums

SODIUM

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HELIUM

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HYDROGEN

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NEON

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MERCURY

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IRON

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