Spectrometer and Estimating the Number of Visible Stars, Solar System

Spectrometer and Estimating the Number of Visible Stars, Solar System

Describe the differences in appearance among the three spectra.

If you observe objects that reflect or give off light, you will come up with varying results of three types of spectra. First, hot objects such as the sun or the filament of incandescent light bulb produced the continuous spectrum. The light shown on this spectrum resembled the rainbow. There was a smooth range of color. You could notice no distinct features. The spectra produced a wide range of wavelength, and it was possible to notice the changes in the color depending on the temperature of the body emitting light. As temperature increased, the color shifted from red to blue. Second, the emission spectrum entailed dark background with bright bands. The bright lines on the spectrum are in particular place; however, they depended on the temperature, pressure and composition of the gas. For instance, when you move away from the object emitting light, the features of the spectrum shifted towards the red end. The lights in the spectrum showed no continuity. Third, the absorption spectrum exhibited dark lines on top of a continuous spectrum.

What feature of the light source do the spectra represent? In other words, what is it that you are actually analyzing?

In this experiment, I was trying to analyze the frequency of the light from the source and the elements present in the source of light. The spectrometer will split light into its component colors, and I will be able to differentiate the sources since different elements produce different colors when they glow.

Why do you think spectrometers are so valuable for studying celestial objects?

The spectrometer is valuable because you can use it to detect light intensity and frequency. In addition, it provides us with a visual picture of the celestial bodies. Objects that emit or reflect light does so depending on their energy levels and composition. For instance, hot bodies emit light at a particular wavelength depending on its hotness. Therefore, when we measure the frequency and intensity of the celestial bodies, we will get an insight into what the bodies entail. Similarly, if we get the information about the spectrum of the source light, it will help us to study the changes in the reflected light and understand what caused the reflection.

When elements are excited, they tend to give off unique sets of emission lines. On the same note, they absorb a specific wavelength of light. However, the light that is reflected from these elements might miss the absorption lines. Therefore, we can use the spectrometer to examine both the absorption and emission lines and determine the wavelength of light that are either missing or present. Scientists can use the uniqueness of the emission and absorption lines of every element and determine the composition of the celestial bodies. Lastly, scientists can use spectrometers to measure the velocity of the celestial bodies. When a body is moving, the wavelength of light it produces is shifted towards red when it moves or blue when it is moving closer to the earth. Therefore, it is possible to calculate the speed it moves relative to us by looking at the spectrum.

How similar is this to your original estimation?

The original estimate of the number of stars I could observe was 3,500. With the toilet roll, I was able to observe an average of 300 stars. To get the number of visible stars, I multiplied the average with 135 and the total estimate came to 40,500 stars. From the results, the original estimate is not the same as current estimate.

What percentage of our galaxy do you think that we can see with the naked eye from Earth? 

The galaxy has billions of stars, and it is hard to estimate the number of stars a person can see with his/her naked eyes. In my opinion, we can see approximately less than 1% of the galaxy.


Why do you think that the inner planets are relatively close together, but the outer planets are spaced so widely apart?

The inner planets are smaller and rocky; hence, their gravitational pull is not strong. The outer planets are in gaseous form and giants. Their gravitational field is strong. Second, the inner and outer planets differ because of orbit changing. The spacing of the planets’ orbits increases as they move out of the sun. Therefore, at any point in their arrangement, the distance between planets that are out is approximately twice that distance between planets that are closer to the sun.

Why do you think that the gaseous planets are gaseous, but the inner planets are not?

Planets are believed to have formed from the same disc of dust that formed the sun. The solar nebula consisted of hydrogen, helium and other elements. The immense gravity of nebula caused the gas and dust to move towards its center. The spinning of the cloud caused it to collect more matter and grow bigger. The smaller clumps that formed outside the disk eventually became the moon, planets, comets and asteroids. As more matter is collected into clumps, the object heats up. The inner solar system has high temperatures while the outer solar system has low temperatures. All other substances vaporized and only those with high melting points remained. The objects in the inner solar system are made of calcium, aluminum, iron, Sulphur and Magnesium. Planets in the inner solar system have low gravitational pull and they could not attract large amount of gases. On the other hand, the outer solar system had low temperatures hence elements such as water and methane could not vaporize and ended up forming a giant planet. Due to their high gravitational field, they attracted a large amounts of hydrogen and helium gases. Therefore, the large amounts of hydrogen and helium gases make up the outer solar system.

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