Earthguide Online Classroom

Why stars have spectra

Interactive diagram introduces the three kinds of solar spectra - continuous, absorption and emission.

Interactive diagram by:Earthguide

Questions for thought

  1. When were solar spectra discovered?
  2. When was the modern conception of the atom (Bohr atom) introduced? This allowed emission and absorption spectra to be explained in relationship to specific phenonmena with an atom.
  3. If you look at the corona of the Sun during an eclipse. What is it about the geometry of the situation that makes the light have to have originated in the corona rather than directly emitted by the Sun? Drawing a diagram might help.
  4. .


  1. The logic of what generates continuos spectra, what absorbs and emits light is confusing when applied to the Sun. The temperature of the surface of the Sun is much lower than in the corona.

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