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Emission spectrum of helium

Emission spectrum of helium

A150/0023

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Credit

DEPT. OF PHYSICS, IMPERIAL COLLEGE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DEPT. OF PHYSICS, IMPERIAL COLLEGE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Emission spectrum of helium. When atoms of an element are excited (for instance by heating), they return to their state of lowest energy by emitting radiation at specific wavelengths. If this radiation is passed through a spectrometer, a spectrum is produced which displays the element's characteristic emission "lines". The lines are a unique "fingerprint" of an element. Helium's predominant lines (right to left) are at 6678 angstroms (red), 5875 (yellow), 5015 & 4921 (cyan) and 4713, 4471 & 4388 angstroms (blue). Many fainter lines are not visible in this photograph.

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