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Homework Help: Spectra from a candle

  1. Oct 4, 2009 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    I'm having a bit of trouble explaining this physics phenomenon:

    A sodium lamp emits yellow light; that to the human eye appears to be quite similar to a
    candle flame in colour. When light from these two sources is viewed through a
    spectroscope, it is found that their spectra are very different. Explain the differences in the
    two spectra produced.

    I understand that when the electrons of the sodium atoms are excited and fall down to ground state they will release a yellow photon, which explains the line emission spectra from the lamp but I don't know what spectra will be produced by the candle.

    Thank you!

    2. Relevant equations
    No relevant equations

    3. The attempt at a solution
    see above
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 4, 2009 #2


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    Homework Helper

    Here is a hint: Candle wax contains paraffin. So when this burns it contains an element that burns yellow as it is being oxidized. This element also forms as black soot sometimes.
  4. Oct 4, 2009 #3
    Thank you! i get it now
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