- You can determine an object’s velocity by the amount the spectrum is shifted.
- The amount of the shift is the source’s velocity relative to the observer. This major clue tells astronomers if an object is moving towards us or away from us, and at what speed.
- The largest red shift recorded, that of one specific Quasar, is close to the speed of light.
Spectral Blueshift, Redshift, and At Rest
In light, this is referred to as the Spectral Red or Blueshift . For objects coming towards us, a blueshift; the entire object’s spectrum shifts towards the blue end of the spectral scale. For objects moving away from us, a redshift; the entire object’s spectrum shifts towards the red end of the scale. So, how can we tell if an object is moving towards or away from us? By comparing an object’s spectrum to the spectrum of an object that is at rest (an object that is not moving). What is called its rest wavelength?
What are The Astronomical Implications and Importance of Spectra?
- How do we know what a star is made up of?
- From the star’s spectra
- How do we know if an object, star, galaxy, etc., is moving towards or away from us?
- Look for a red or blue shift in the object’s spectra
- Can we tell how fast an object is moving towards or away from us?
- Yes, by the extent of red or blue shift
For most of history, visible light was the single most recognized portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, EMS. The ancient Greeks noted that light traveled in straight lines and studied its properties. Over the years the study of light continued. During the 16th and 17th centuries there were conflicting theories which regarded light as either a wave or a particle. In 1800, astronomer Frederick William Herschel discovered infrared radiation while using a thermometer to measure temperatures of visible light frequencies. A year later Johann Ritter discovered ultraviolet radiation.