spectral line


: one of a series of linear images formed by a spectrograph or similar instrument and corresponding to a narrow portion of the spectrum of the radiation emitted or absorbed by a particular source

Examples of spectral line in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Today many astronomical spectrographs are calibrated using the spectral lines emitted by thorium argon lamps, which have irregular lines that vary widely in brightness and spacing and shine on only a small fraction of the CCD cells in a detector. IEEE Spectrum, 30 Dec. 2011 Unfortunately, the data was unclear because of its low resolution; spectral lines that identified the presence of water were blurred. Elizabeth Rayne, Ars Technica, 28 Nov. 2023 Within a year of Herschel’s launch, astronomers began noticing that something in interstellar space was absorbing far-infrared light at a wavelength of 485 microns, a spectral line that hadn’t been observed before. Ken Croswell, Discover Magazine, 12 Dec. 2019 Ferrara finds some evidence to support the model: The JWST spectrum of one distant galaxy, GNz-11, had one spectral line—for hydrogen gas—shifted out of place as if the gas was moving at 300 kilometers per second. Bydaniel Clery, science.org, 28 Mar. 2023 To this day no one has ever detected any helium hydride in the early universe; that would require the unprecedented feat of looking across more than 13 billion light-years of space to the dawn of time and discerning the faint spectral line that the molecule produces. Ken Croswell, Discover Magazine, 12 Dec. 2019 After all, astronomers had been seeing that same 485-micron spectral line elsewhere. Ken Croswell, Discover Magazine, 12 Dec. 2019 His team also recognized that a red spectral line which supposedly arose from oxygen is actually a blend of oxygen and nickel; subtracting nickel’s contribution led to a lower oxygen abundance. Ken Croswell, Scientific American, 1 July 2020 At the same time, the spectral lines became objects of mathematical interest. Quanta Magazine, 20 Mar. 2018

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'spectral line.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1849, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of spectral line was in 1849

Dictionary Entries Near spectral line

Cite this Entry

“Spectral line.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spectral%20line. Accessed 13 Apr. 2024.

Medical Definition

spectral line

: one of a series of linear images of the narrow slit of a spectrograph or similar instrument corresponding to a component of the spectrum of the radiation emitted by a particular source

More from Merriam-Webster on spectral line

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