As a black body a star emits a continuous spectrum of light and other radiation. I've learned they are capable of knowing of what elements the stars are made of because of the spectral lines. But how do they distinguish those lines from other radiations?

  • $\begingroup$ The spectral lines are peaks in the spectral intensity distribution. $\endgroup$
    – aventurin
    Jun 25, 2016 at 10:16
  • $\begingroup$ Star do not have a blackbody spectrum. Have you looked at one? $\endgroup$
    – ProfRob
    Jun 25, 2016 at 11:43

1 Answer 1


The lines show as either peaks above the black body emission (for emission lines) or troughs below the black body emission (for absorption lines). Though stars more often have absorption lines and nebulae emission.

enter image description here enter image description here


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .