This is the visible spectrum of the light from the sun. And if you have played with white light and prisms before, it might come as a huge surprise to you to know that the spectrum from the sun is actually not continuous.

image

Why is it not ? The dark patches in the above spectrum arise from gas at or above the
Sun’s surface absorbing sunlight emitted below.

image

                                               Source

Since there are different types of gases that compose the sun, there are numerous wavelengths of light that get absorbed by these gases.

image

                                         Source: xkcd

How do we know which line corresponds to which ? Well, it’s because we have a periodic table, and we know the spectrum of all the elements in it:

image

                                               Source

And then it’s a matter of solving the jigsaw puzzle of fitting the spectrum with the tiles that you have. When we do so, we obtain the following composition of elements:

image

                                   Source: Earth Blog

We can even take it one step further by finding the composition of other neighboring stars as well.

image

                                  Source: Potsdam University 

All of this information about the star can be captured from a simple spectrum. And this is why one of the most important tool that an astronomer has about an object is it’s spectrum.

Have a good one!

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