Stellar_Classification_pre-lab_02-02-10 - Spectral...

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Spectral Classification Pre-Lab Read the following material, then answer the questions at the end by typing them into the submission box for the Spectral Classification Pre-lab on Blackboard. The History and Nature of Spectral Classification 1 Patterns of absorption lines were first observed in the spectrum of the sun by the German physicist Joseph von Fraunhofer early in the 1800’s, but it was not until late in the century that astronomers were able to routinely examine the spectra of stars in large numbers. Astronomers Angelo Secchi and E.C. Pickering were among the first to note that the stellar spectra could be divided into groups by the general appearance of their spectra. In the various classification schemes they proposed, stars were grouped together by the prominence of certain spectral lines. In Secchi’s scheme, for instance, stars with very strong hydrogen lines were called type I, stars with strong lines from metallic ions like iron and calcium were called type II, stars with wide bands of absorption that got darker toward the blue were called type III, and so on. Building upon this early work, astronomers at the Harvard Observatory refined the spectral types and renamed them with letters, A, B, C, etc. They also embarked on a massive project to classify spectra, carried out by a trio of astronomers, Williamina Fleming, Annie Jump Cannon, and Antonia Maury. The results of that work, the Henry Draper Catalog (named after the benefactor who financed the study), was published between 1918 and 1924, and provided classifications of 225, 300 stars. Even this study, however, represents only a tiny fraction of the stars in the sky. In the course of the Harvard classification study, some of the old spectral types were consolidated together, and the types were rearranged to reflect a steady change in the strengths of representative spectral lines. The order of the spectral classes became O,
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This note was uploaded on 02/06/2011 for the course ASTR 114 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '08 term at George Mason.

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Stellar_Classification_pre-lab_02-02-10 - Spectral...

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