Hartmann Discovers the First Evidence of Interstellar Matter (Great Events from History II: Science and Technology Series)
Article abstract: Hartmann discovered the first indications that there is matter in between the stars.
Summary of Event
Astronomy changed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Rather than studying only the motions and positions of heavenly bodies, astronomers utilized new tools that enabled them to learn about the physical composition of the heavens, from stars to the galaxy itself. Johannes Franz Hartmann found the first evidence that the galaxy contains diffuse interstellar matter as well as the stars and planets, which form discrete objects. The discovery that there is matter in between the stars had implications for many areas in astronomy, from the debate over the nature of the Milky Way galaxy to the question of the beginnings of the solar system. The work of many astronomers contributed to the knowledge of interstellar matter.
Spectroscopy was among the new tools that were ’important to astronomy in this time period. The spectroscope is an instrument that breaks starlight down into its component parts (its spectrum) by passing it through a prism or reflecting it from a finely ruled grating. Sir Isaac Newton was the first to realize that white light is composed of light of many colors, or wavelengths, which blend together and appear white. Astronomers now can use the colors and dark bands of an object’s spectrum to determine its chemical composition and many other properties. In...
(The entire section is 2093 words.)
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