Astronomical Spectra In the case of Kirchhoff's laws 2 and 3, the different atoms in the gas give different patterns of lines corresponding to the type of light they absorb or emit. The type of light an atom absorbs or emits depends upon the specific structure of the atom (how far apart the energy levels are). In other words, a certain type of atom will produce a certain pattern of lines (dark absorption lines or bright emission lines) and each type of atom makes its own distinct pattern. An atom of hydrogen is different from an atom of helium, which is different from a carbon atom, which is different. .. well, you get the picture. See Figure 7 for a variety of spectra from some gases. Figure 7. The absorption and emission spectra for different gases are shown. Notice how the spectra are sort of negatives of one another - what is absorbed in one spectra for a particular element is emitted in the emission spectra for that element. If the pattern produced by the
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