Sun|Trek Adventures Solar Surface Hot Solar Atmosphere Magnetic Sun Flowing from the Sun
Sun Earth Connection Solar Spacecraft Earth and Beyond The Sun as a Star
  hot solar atmosphere
computer model solar eclipses
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  solar fingerprints
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  how do we produce a spectrum?
  how to make your own rainbow
  the Fraunhofer Spectrum
  the one million degree rainbow
  atoms, ions and electrons
  recognising the fingerprints
  UV spectra from the Sun
  what is the Sun made of?
  gold in the Sun?

solar fingerprints


My name is Peter. My job is to find out what the solar atmosphere is made of. Of course I can't just go to the Sun and bring back a big chunk of it. I need to look for clues and build up the evidence by studying the light from the Sun, which is why I like to think of myself as a solar detective.


Sir William Herschel discovered the planet Uranus, and his grandson was the first person to realise that the patterns on the ends of our fingers are unique.


These patterns are fixed before we're born and stay with us all our life. Fingerprints are a major help in identifying criminals.

Graph showing brightness of light from the Sun against wavelength  

Why do I talk about the Sun's fingerprints? - The patterns we have at the end of our fingers can be used to identify us as other individuals. The light from the stars, including our Sun, also have unique patterns, which can be used to identify what the star is made of


Left Arrow Take a look at this graph, it shows how the brightness of light from the Sun’s hot atmosphere (corona) changes at different wavelengths. It is called an emission spectrum.


The important thing to notice is that the brightness of the Sun's light changes suddenly at different wavelengths - these are the Sun's fingerprints!

  Where did the word 'spectrum' orginate? - The word spectrum originates from the Latin word 'specere' - to look. Other similar words are spectator and spectacles



See the Classroom Project called SPECTRA relevent to this section of Sun|trek.




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