What Does the Spectrum of a Star Tell Us about Its Temperature?
ES2803  Looking at Starlight

To learn anything about a star, astronomers must analyze its light. They accomplish this by pointing a telescope at the star to gather its light and then using a spectroscope to spread the light into a spectrum. By comparing and analyzing patterns in the spectra of many stars, astronomers have learned to infer stars' compositions and temperatures.

NASA/NOAO/AURA/NSF
Passing starlight through a prism separates the light into its component colors.

The brightness of different colors and the location and width of dark absorption lines in a star's spectrum all provide information about the star. Examine the differences in the example spectra.

1. How do you think the light from a star might indicate the star's temperature?


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