Hydrogen spectral series

Hydrogen spectral series

In physics, the spectral lines of hydrogen correspond to particular jumps of the electron between energy levels. The simplest model of the hydrogen atom is given by the Bohr model. When an electron jumps from a higher energy to a lower, a photon of a specific wavelength is emitted according to the Rydberg formula:

: {1 over lambda} = R left( {1 over (n')^2} - {1 over n^2} ight) qquad left( R = 10.972 imes 10^6 mbox{m}^{-1} ight)where "n" is the initial energy level and "n"' is the final energy level, and "R" is the Rydberg constant.

The spectral lines are grouped into series according to "n"' :


Series name

1Lyman series
2Balmer series
3Paschen series
4Brackett series
5Pfund series
6Humphreys series

Lyman series

Balmer series


λ (nm)


λ (nm)


Paschen series

Brackett series


λ (nm)


λ (nm)


Pfund series

Humphreys series


λ (nm)


λ (nm)



Hydrogen is the element with the simplest-to-analyze emission spectrum. All other atoms possess at least two electrons in their unionized form and the interactions between these electrons makes analysis of the spectrum by such simple methods as described here impractical. The deduction of the Rydberg formula was a major step in physics, but it was long before an extension to the spectra of other elements could be accomplished.

See also

* Bohr model

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