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Physics LibreTexts

10: Line Profiles

Spectrum lines are not infinitesimally narrow; they have a finite width. A graph of radiance or intensity per unit wavelength (or frequency) versus wavelength (or frequency) is the line profile. There are several causes of line broadening, some internal to the atom, others external, and each produces its characteristic profile. Some types of profile, for example, have a broad core and small wings; others have a narrow core and extensive, broad wings. Analysis of the exact shape of a line profile may give us information about the physical conditions, such as temperature and pressure, in a stellar atmosphere.