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Astronomical Spectr4 - that are wrong When the electron...

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Astronomical Spectra However, atoms are not exactly like mountains, since the electron can only go from one level to another if it absorbs or emits the exact amount of energy (light). It can't go to a place in between - there are only certain energy levels available to the electron - sort of like there are only certain places on the mountain where you can stop and stand safely. Electrons are very picky about the type of light (amount of energy) they will use. Only certain wavelengths of light will interact with the atom, since light is distinguished by wavelength. Let's say you have an atom with the electron in the lowest energy level (a hydrogen atom is the simplest to picture). Most wavelengths of light are ignored by the atom. If the exactly right wavelength comes along, the electron will absorb the energy (absorb the light) and the electron will bounce up to a higher orbit. The higher the energy of the light it absorbs, the higher the orbit it ends up in. Remember, it has to be the exact right type of light for this to happen. It will ignore all of the types of light
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Unformatted text preview: that are wrong. When the electron moves to a higher orbit (higher energy state), we refer to the atom as being excited . Electrons don't want to be in higher orbits; they like to be in a low energy state (mainly the ground state) - remember, they are lazy and like to have low energies. They want to get rid of any energy they pick up. To do this they give off the light needed to go down to lower energy levels. This light that they give off could be exactly like the light they absorbed or a combination of different types of light that add up to the same energy as the light that was originally absorbed. The end result is the atom gets rid of the energy it sucked up (it gives off the light in a random direction) and the electron is back down in the ground state. For a while the atom was storing up extra energy - this is when you would call it an excited atom - not because it won the lottery, but because it has extra energy in it. This scenario is shown in Figure 3....
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