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Balmer Series and Atomic Absorbtion/Emission

  1. Jan 27, 2014 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    This isn't a homework question, but I will try and follow the template.

    I am confused about the relationship between the absorbtion and emission spectrums for hydrogen. I was taught that in the balmer series for hydrogen, when an electron moves from the n=1 level to n=3, and then drops from n=3 to n=2 it emits red light. I was also told that the absorbtion spectrum would have a black line at about 656nm and a red line on the emission spectrum in the same location. It was explained that it absorbed red light, so it must emit that light when the electrons fall to a lower level.

    What I don't understand is how red light absorbed could bump the electron from n=1 to 3, while dropping from n=3 to 2 would release the same light. Wouldn't it have to drop back to n=1 to emit this same red light?


    2. Relevant equations


    3. The attempt at a solution

    See above
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 27, 2014 #2

    Simon Bridge

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    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Yes it would. It looks like the description got garbled.
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