science vocab (unit 6)

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Absolute magnitude


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28 Terms

Absolute magnitude

actual brightness of a star from a standard distance

Absorption spectrum

produced when gas absorbs light; shows dark lines that represent the wavelengths that a gas absorbs; can help determine the composition of stars

Apparent magnitude

brightness of a star as seen from Earth

Big Bang Theory

the theory that all matter and energy in the universe was compressed into an extremely small volume that 13 billion to 15 billion years ago exploded and began expanding in all directions

Blue Shift

a shift toward the blue end of the spectrum; occurs in the spectrum of an object when the object is moving toward the observer

Continuous Spectrum

produced when a light source emits all of the colors of visible light with no gaps or breaks between the wavelengths; colors are always in the same order - red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet

Cosmic Microwave Radiation

the electromagnetic radiation left over from the formation of the universe

Doppler Effect

an observed change in frequency or wavelength when the source is moving with respect to the observer

Electromagnetic spectrum

all of the frequencies or wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation

Emission spectrum

a series of unevenly spaced lines of different colors and brightnesses with each color corresponding to a certain wavelength of light that is being emitted


  • a collection of stars, dust, and gas bound together by gravity.

H-R diagram

a graph that shows the relationship between a star's surface temperature and absolute magnitude


the distance that light travels in one year; about 9.46 trillion kilometers


brightness of a star compared to the sun

Main sequence

the location on the H-R diagram where most stars lie; it has a diagonal pattern


a large cloud of dust and gas in interstellar space; a region in space where stars are born


a relatively large spherical body that orbits a star

Red Shift

a shift toward the red end of the spectrum; occurs in the spectrum of an object when the object is moving away from the observer


the motion of a body that travels around another body in space; one trip along an orbit


the spin of a body on its axis

Solar system

the sun and all the planets and other bodies that travel around it


a tool to collect light from stars and separate the colors in the light


a range of electromagnetic radiation that is ordered by wavelength or frequency, such as the band of colors that is produced when white light passes through a prism


a large celestial body that is composed of gas and that emits light; the sun is a typical star


a gigantic explosion in which a massive star collapses and throws its outer layers into space


space and all the matter and energy in it


the distance between two adjacent crests or troughs of a wave

White dwarf

a small, hot, dim star that is the leftover center of an old sun-like star