May 12, 2007

Emission and absorption

I've recently been teaching kids about what we can learn about stars and nebulae from observing their light. Temperature, age, size, composition, etc. But the simplified explanations that I seem to find everywhere leaves me with one major question:

How does this work when there is no such thing as a continous spectrum?

Emission spectrums I can understand fine. Atom gets excited*, ejaculatesemits photons with specific energy, spectrometer tells us what we're dealing with. The problem is that all the texts I come across seem to say that absorption spectra are the important ones, and colour me stupid, but don't they require a non-existent continous spectrum as a "background"?

Can anyone explain this to me, or point me to a webpage that does? Or will I just have to live with the lies-to-children version?

*is it possible to get a super-orgasm by showing every atom in your body some good atom porn?

Posted by: retroflex at 10:23 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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