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Spectroscopic resolution, also referred to as frequency resolution, is simply a measure of a spectrometer's ability to differentiate between two spectral lines with a small difference in frequency. For instance, in order for a spectrometer to resolve two spectral lines separated by 10Hz, it must possess a frequency resolution equal to or below this frequency.
Low Frequency Resolution
This graph shows the 21 centimeter spectral lines of atomic hydrogen gas from
the center of the Milky Way, using a spectrometer set to a low frequency resolution.
The velocities represented on the horizontal axis can be easily translated into frequencies
by calculating their Doppler shifts.
JPEG Image (30K); Credits
The following is a spectral line graph of the same 21 centimeter lines. The difference is that the spectrometer was set to a much higher spectral resolution.
High Frequency Resolution
Notice that each spectral line is more clearly distinguishable from its neighboring lines, and that as a
whole, the shapes of the lines are better defined than in the first graph.
JPEG Image (35K); Credits
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