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class13a - Spectra of gasses and solids When solids are...

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Spectra of gasses and solids When solids are heated they emit all wavelengths of light (a continuous spectrum). How bright the light at different wavelengths is depends on the temperature of the solid. Hotter solids emit more light of all wavelengths, but they especially emit more short wavelength (blue and violet) light. When gasses are heated they emit only certain wavelengths of light (an emission line spectrum). Different gasses emit different wavelengths. A cool object (gas or solid) can absorb some of the light passing through it.
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Hot solids – continuous spectra The temperature of an object is a measure of how much energy its atoms have. Since atoms in hotter objects have more energy, they can emit photons with more energy than cooler objects can. (When an atom emits a photon the photon energy comes from the atom, so an atom can’t emit a photon with more energy than the atom had.) So hot objects emit high energy photons, or short wavelength light.
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