what produces spectra by refraction?

and what is a pattern of colours in light called?

thanks

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  • 1 decade ago
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    different wavelengths of light travel through materials at different speeds. when the light passes from one medium into another at an angle, the beam will broaden and separate into its constituent wavelengths. this is why diamonds sparkle.

    now the question of what makes this happen is a really interesting one. electrons travel around the atoms in a material at set energy levels. when a photon(little piece of light) hits or "excites" one of these electrons, the electron jumps up to a higher orbital around the atom. the electron isn't happy there so it drops back down to its lower energy level by emitting another photon that is equal in energy to the level that the electron is dropping. there is a lot more to this but this should give you a general idea of what is going on--welcome to quantum mechanics. try the wiki link below for a good description of refraction.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Refraction

    Source(s): phd physics student
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