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Atoms Releasing Photons

  1. Oct 12, 2012 #1

    Physicist50

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    I was wondering, after discovering that in particular scenarios atoms can release photons, how they do it? Is some of the energy stored in the nucleus converted into light energy, or is it something else?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 12, 2012 #2

    Drakkith

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    Typically it is that the electrons drop from higher energy levels to lower energy levels. In order to do so they have to get rid of the excess energy, and can do so by emitting a photon whose energy exactly matches the difference in energy levels. So if the difference between the higher energy level and lower energy level is 2.0 electronvolts, a photon with 2.0 electronvolts will be emitted, which is within the visible range in the orange-yellow end of the spectrum.

    The nucleus can do the same thing however, but because the energy levels for particles in the nucleus are MUCH higher, the emitted photon has MUCH more energy, typically above 100,000 electronvolts.

    The key thing to understand is that the energy comes from BINDING energy.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binding_energy
     
  4. Oct 12, 2012 #3

    Physicist50

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    Thanks Drakkith, but what would cause an electron to suddenly give off a spurt of excess energy?
     
  5. Oct 12, 2012 #4
    when a photon gets absorbed by atom ,it just disappear (annihilation operator). when it comes back it only mean a creation of photon(it is not inside the atom).
     
  6. Oct 12, 2012 #5

    Drakkith

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    Electrons that are in higher energy levels, that also have lower energy levels available to them, simply have a chance of changing levels and emitting energy. You could say they "want" to be in the lowest energy state.
     
  7. Oct 12, 2012 #6
    this is not classical physics as photons are a quantum concept, same with energy levels.
     
  8. Oct 12, 2012 #7

    Drakkith

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    No worries, a mod will move the thread if they feel like it. :biggrin:
     
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