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Why is Light so useful Interaction of Light and Matter

in Astronomy? Four Ways
• It can tell us many properties of planets and
stars: 1. emission – matter releases energy (E) as light
– How warm / hot they are (Surface temperature) 2. absorption – matter takes E from light
– What they’re made of (Chemical Composition) 3. transmission – matter allows light to pass
– How they’re moving (Radial Velocity and 4. reflection – matter repels light in another
Spectrum of Mars


Reflection: Application
Emission - Continuous
• When light passes through matter, or reflects off
• Hot, dense objects give off continuous of matter, some wavelengths may be absorbed
thermal blackbody radiation
– Warm objects emit infrared • Resulting spectrum tells us about the matter!
– Hotter Î – Example: Mars appears red because it’s surface absorbs
• More light more blue light than red (reflects more red light than
• Shorter wavelengths blue) Î tells us something about what surface is made of
• e.g. Stars emit visible light!

• IR Spectrum Î We can measure planet’s
surface temperature!

Blackbody Activity Application to Stars:
Thermal Radiation

• Bluer Stars are hotter
than redder ones!

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uiuc.g.e.astro.8photons whose energies (colors) match the “jump” in Hydrogen electron energy levels can be emitted or pectra/orbitals. • Each element has a unique signature because of its energy level structure 9 10 Application : Application to Stars: Absorption spectra Chemical Composition • Outer layers of a star are cooler than the dense • Presence of absorption lines of a particular inner part (i. Emission & Absorption Kirchhoff’s Laws: Kinds of Spectra • Photons can be absorbed / emitted by matter: – Photon energy matches “jump” in energy levels • http://www.html • Atoms absorb photon & gain energy Î Absorption-line spectrum • Atoms emit photon & lose energy Î Emission-line spectrum Types of Spectra Activity Element Identification • •Fig. they are the “cool cloud”) element indicates the presence of that element in the absorbing material – e. Only 6. atmosphere of a star! Artificial (Absorption-line) Solar Spectrum: Laboratory (Emission-line) Spectrum of Iron: 11 2 .

msu. lines of a particular element indicates the presence of that element in the excited gas From 18 3 . Application: Emission Spectra Application : • Tails of Comets consist of dust which reflects Chemical Composition sunlight.htm) Motion away from observer lengthens it (Red Shift) Faster speed Î bigger change in λ Doppler Effect Activity Measuring Radial Velocity • Measure Doppler shift of emission or absorption lines in a spectrum Î radial velocity of object • No Motion • Motion away • Motion towards From: http://www.pref.html and Motion toward observer shortens wavelength (Blue Shift) and excited gas which produces an • Presence of emission emission-line spectrum.html The Doppler Effect The Doppler Effect How is light affected by the velocity of a source? (Alternate views: From:

g.arizona. moving away from nebula. Application: Orbiting Stars Measuring Radial Velocity • Motions of stars moving towards & • Mizar: away from us – Really 4 stars! – Binary Stars – Extrasolar planets From: http://woodahl. tail of comet) us • Doppler effect on lines Î radial velocity.htm) More Applications • Spin of Venus Why is Light so Useful? and/or asteroids: – Radar measurements • Thermal / continuous spectrum Î temperature • Reflected light Î properties of reflecting object • Absorption features Î composition of • Expansion of absorbing material ( planet Universe: atmosphere) – Distant galaxies • Emission lines Î composition of thin gas (e.physics. spin! 4 .jpg 19 ( star.