Spectra of Gas Discharges

Color spectra of elements undergoing electrical discharge excitation.

















JPEG screen grabs of an applet which computes and plots the spectra in a web browser window. The above images aren't dithered. They may appear so if your display doesn't have enough colors to represent the entire color range. Displays limited to 256 colors or less don't produce acceptable spectra. Try increasing your color resolution to 16 or 24 bits (16 million colors).

This Java program reads a file containing a list of emission line wavelengths and their corresponding strengths then simulates the appearance of the spectrum in a good visual spectroscope.

Note: This program generates deep 24 bit color plots, therefore you may need to increase the color depth of your system to view subtle details in these spectra.

Warning: There may be a small delay as the Applet loads it's element emission line file and computes the spectra...

Most common elements in solar spectrum.
(listed in order of decreasing abundance)
Element Symbol Data File Emission Lines
4000-7000 Å
1 Hydrogen H hydrogen.txt 5 JPEG hydrogen.dat.gz
2 Helium He helium.txt 23 JPEG helium.dat.gz
8 Oxygen O oxygen.txt 73 JPEG oxygen.dat.gz
6 Carbon C carbon.txt 27 JPEG carbon.dat.gz
7 Nitrogen N nitrogen.txt 84 JPEG nitrogen.dat.gz
10 Neon Ne neon.txt 75 JPEG neon.dat.gz
12 Magnesium Mg magnesium.txt 54 JPEG magnesium.dat.gz
14 Silicon Si silicon.txt 109 JPEG silicon.dat.gz
16 Sulfur S sulfur.txt 39 JPEG sulfur.dat.gz
26 Iron Fe iron.txt 235 JPEG iron.dat.gz
11 Aluminum Al aluminum.txt 38 JPEG aluminum.dat.gz
20 Calcium Ca calcium.txt 78 JPEG calcium.dat.gz
18 Argon Ar argon.txt 159 JPEG argon.dat.gz
11 Sodium Na sodium.txt 90 JPEG sodium.dat.gz
36 Krypton Kr krypton.txt 75 JPEG krypton.dat.gz
54 Xenon Xe xenon.txt 139 JPEG xenon.dat.gz
All Spectra High Resolution 784 X 64 JPEG catalog.dat.gz
306 KBytes

Atomic Number The number of protons in the nucleus of the element.
Element Click on the name in this column to launch the Applet which displays an emission line spectrum of the corresponding element
Symbol Symbol from the table of the elements
Data File Click on the name to download a text file containing an a list of emission lines in Ångstroms and their associated strengths for the corresponding element
Emission Lines
4000-7000 Å
Number of tabulated emission lines in the visible wavelength range
Jpeg Image JPEG screen grab (784 X 8). The narrow height is to reduce transmission time, it expands to 64 pixels using HEIGHT=64 option in IMG tag of HTML file. To use images outside the context of a web browser, you should expand them vertically with image processor.
Original Data Spectra of neutral and singly ionized elements from the Astronomical Data Center (ADC) catalog A6016, by Reader J., Corliss Ch.H. :1981, 'Line Spectra of the Elements', CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics; NSRDS-NBS 68

The element, wavelength range and line width are all controlled by applet parameter (PARAM) tags in the HTML source for this page. There are other options such as width and height of spectra in pixels and contrast which can also be controlled. There are also options to overlay a continuous blackbody spectrum of varying strength and to limit the wavelength range.
For example here are the parameters for Neon :

<APPLET CODE=discharge.class WIDTH=784 HEIGHT=64>
<PARAM NAME=element VALUE=neon.txt>
<PARAM NAME=startWavelength VALUE=4000>
<PARAM NAME=endWavelength VALUE=7000>
<PARAM NAME=lineWidth VALUE=2.5>
<PARAM NAME=contrast VALUE=10>
<PARAM NAME=continuum VALUE=0.3>
The simulated gas discharge spectrum is synthesized by assigning each emission line to a gaussian and each point in the spectra is computed as a mathematical sum of all the emission lines.