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Sign up for a FREE trial. We will respond to all feedback. For any urgent enquiries please contact our customer services team who are ready to help with any problems. Your feedback has been submitted successfully. Emission spectrum of a metal halide lamp. In physics, emission is the process by which a higher energy quantum mechanical state of a particle becomes converted to a lower one through the emission of a photon, resulting in the production of light.
The frequency of light emitted is a function of the energy of the transition. The emittance of an object quantifies how much light is emitted by it. Emission of radiation is typically described using semi-classical quantum mechanics: the particle’s energy levels and spacings are determined from quantum mechanics, and light is treated as an oscillating electric field that can drive a transition if it is in resonance with the system’s natural frequency. When the electrons in the atom are excited, for example by being heated, the additional energy pushes the electrons to higher energy orbitals. When the electrons fall back down and leave the excited state, energy is re-emitted in the form of a photon.
The fact that only certain colors appear in an element’s atomic emission spectrum means that only certain frequencies of light are emitted. This concludes that only photons with specific energies are emitted by the atom. The frequencies of light that an atom can emit are dependent on states the electrons can be in. When excited, an electron moves to a higher energy level or orbital.
When the electron falls back to its ground level the light is emitted. The above picture shows the visible light emission spectrum for hydrogen. If only a single atom of hydrogen were present, then only a single wavelength would be observed at a given instant. Several of the possible emissions are observed because the sample contains many hydrogen atoms that are in different initial energy states and reach different final energy states. Light consists of electromagnetic radiation of different wavelengths. Therefore, when the elements or their compounds are heated either on a flame or by an electric arc they emit energy in the form of light.
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