Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Post by Lily Satterlee: Spectroscopy

This is the research paper that Lily did for her 6th grade school science fair project - Future post of project documentation coming soon ;)


       Spectroscopy is the best way for scientists and astronomers to discover more about our universe. Scientist for many years have wanted to use light waves to learn more about the elements around us. The electromagnetic spectrum and line emission also play important roles in spectroscopy. Spectroscopy can work in many different ways, occur in many different places, and there are many ways it can be used.
        Spectroscopy, over the years, has been a useful tool for helping scientists to identify things using the electromagnetic spectrum. It all started with Isaac Newton’s discovery that white light from the sun could be split up into colors of the rainbow, he called this a spectrum. He discovered this by using a prism to bend light from the sun. The first spectroscopes were lenses, screens, and prisms. Later on, a German physicist named Gustav Kirchhoff wanted to identify elements using the electromagnetic spectrum. He soon realized that spectra lines were unique to each element. This was called line emission.
        Spectroscopy works by the electromagnetic spectrum causing line emission.  The electromagnetic spectrum is caused when vibrations from the electric and magnetic fields cause electromagnetic waves Line emission is spectra lines with in an electromagnetic spectrum. Line emission is caused by an electron elevator. That is when an electron moves either closer or farther away from the nucleus.  As the electron moves further away from the nucleus, it moves faster, which causes higher energy levels. This causes electrons to emit light which gives off spectra lines.
        There are different ways that spectroscopy can be used. One way is if you’re trying to figure out what a star is made of You can do flame test (lighting elements on fire) on different elements because each element burns its own unique color. To see how hot a star is, you can see that, if it is blue or white, it is hotter and if it’s a dark red, its cooler.

       As you can see spectroscopy is the best way for scientists and astronomers to discover more about the universe. In conclusion, using the electromagnetic spectrum, and the many other ways it can be used spectroscopy, over many ways, played an important role in scientific history.