Spectroscopy is a technique used to analyse light by breaking it apart into its component colours with a prism or grating and studying the resulting pattern, which is known as a spectrum. Dark absorption and bright emission lines that interrupt the rainbow of colours from the split-apart light allow scientists to 'fingerprint' the light's source.
By studying a star's spectrum, scientists can work out its chemical make-up and temperature. Spectroscopy also allows astronomers to work out the relative velocities of galaxies and supernovae by measuring something called red shift.
Image: A spectrum of the Sun (credit: Physics dept., Imperial College/SPL)
A powerful technique helps scientists 'fingerprint' starlight.
The Doppler shift shows how stars are moving.
Dr Francisco Diego explains how the Doppler shift can be used to work out whether stars are moving towards us or away from us.
Spectroscopy reveals some of the Universe's secrets.
A scientific technique known as spectroscopy is used to break down light and provide a more detailed understanding of the Universe.
How do we know what the Universe is made of?
Prof Brian Cox demonstrates how we can understand what the entire Universe is made of by looking at the faint light emitted from the stars.
Prof Brian Cox studies the colour of stars to understand how the Universe began.
Prof Brian Cox explains how we can understand the origins of the Universe through differing wavelengths of light emitted by stars.
George Hale discovers sunspots' magnetic origins.
Through careful spectrographic study, early 20th century American astronomer George Hale discovered that sunspots are caused by distortions in the Sun's powerful magnetic field.
Spectroscopy // is the study of the interaction between matter and electromagnetic radiation. Historically, spectroscopy originated through the study of visible light dispersed according to its wavelength, by a prism. Later the concept was expanded greatly to comprise any interaction with radiative energy as a function of its wavelength or frequency. Spectroscopic data is often represented by a spectrum, a plot of the response of interest as a function of wavelength or frequency.