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Black lines in elements' emission spectra

  1. Dec 15, 2007 #1
    My understanding of analyzing emission spectra is that when the quantum number of an electron decreases (i.e. when it falls closer to the nucleus) it emits energy. I understand that this is a very basic understanding but I have not yet made it to college, so please bear with me. :) Now, what I can't figure out is why different elements' emission spectra have black parts in different places, or why the black parts are even there. Does it have something to do with electrons not being able to exist between two energy levels?

    Unfortunately, my chemistry teacher and my textbook do not explain things too well, so I can't turn to them for help, especially when we aren't really expected/required to know any more about this than what I already know for the course.

    Thank you for your time.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 15, 2007 #2


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    Dark absorbtion linesare formed in exactly the same way - if you have a continous spectrum illuminated some colder molecules theelectrosn absorb energy and are promoted to higher orbitals - since this only occurs if they absorb a photon of exactly the right energy you get sharp absorbtion features in the spectrum.
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