MadSci Network: Physics

Subject: Continuous V's Line Spectra

Date: Sun Aug 8 10:32:46 2004
Posted by Nuala
Grade level: undergrad School: No school entered.
City: No city entered. State/Province: No state entered. Country: No country entered.
Area of science: Physics
ID: 1091979166.Ph


I was wondering if someone could help me to get a clearer picture of why some 
elements, tungsten for instance, produce a continuous spectrum whilst others, 
zinc/cadmium, produce line spectra.

I am unsure how I could possibly predict whether an element would produce one 
or the other type of spectrum. As both types depend on electron transitions 
from higher to lower energy levels within their atoms, then I don't see how 
there are two different results. It is something to do with the temperature of 
the substance whose spectrum I am measuring? Tungsten I know has a very high 
melting point and can therefore withstand very high temperatures. However, 
surely it's atoms contain only specific energy levels and thus only specific 
transitions can occur, thus resulting in specific lines. This is obviously not 
the case! 

Thanks very much for your help.


Re: Continuous V's Line Spectra

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