Astronomical Spectra What happens if the energy the electron absorbs is too much? Is there such a thing as too much? You bet there is. The atom has a structure that allows for orbits up to only a certain energy level - sort of like the top of the mountain. If the electron absorbs too much energy and then goes up, there is no level that it can land in, since it has too much energy. This would be sort like having a rocket pack on your back as you climb a mountain, like what often happens to the Coyote trying to catch the Road-runner - he overshoots his target. The electron goes completely out of the atom. The atom is then said to be ionized ; see Figure 4 for an illustration. Now the atom is sort of out of balance, since there was an electrical balance between the electrons and protons. With the loss of an electron, there is one less negative particle. For an atom like hydrogen, there is only one electron that can be lost. Other atoms have more electrons and can lose more and more, so long as the energy available is high enough to keep kicking the electrons out. Roman numbers
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