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if hydrogen has only one electron how does it produce 4 spectral lines? (1 Viewer)

mecramarathon

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when viewing hydrogen u see four spectral lines with a spectroscope (red, green, blue and violet) as electrons move from n = 6 to n = 2, n = 5 to n = 2 etc ....

what i don't get is how does one electron produce these four lines? :confused:
 

darkchild69

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The wavelength of the spectral line is related to the energy difference between the initial and final energy state.

The single electron has more than one possible final/initial energy state combination.

Kind of like walking up stairs, you can take one at a time (lower energy) or take 2 at a time (more energy) etc... Whilst it is still the one object (i.e., you) walking up the stairs, you can do them in more than one different way.

Essentially, it is the same electron in the Hydrogen atom undergoing the different energy transitions. So, 1 object (i.e., the one electron) but 4 different transitions, hence four different wavelengths of light (4 different 'energy differences')

Keep in mind, these 4 spectral lines are merely the energy transitions which produce visible light..
 
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MetroMattums

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There are only 4 spectral lines within the spectrum of visible light - there are an infinite number of possible energy states but they all produce EM radiation outside the spectrum of visible light.
 

alcalder

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Also, remember that it is Hydrogen gas that is being excited with many thousands or millions or thousands of millions etc atoms. Thus, the one electron in all those atoms is randomly moving between different energy levels.

Hence, if we could see in all sprectra, we would see all the series of lines for the electron falling from level 6 to 1, 6 to 2, 6 to 3, 6 to 4, 6 to 5, 5 to 4, 5 to 3, 5 to 2 and so on.

And, as others have pointed out, of all those lines, only 4 lie in the visible spectrum. Learn how to draw that because it looks cool in your explanations.
 

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