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Light Bulbs Work
Oct 12, 2018

one form of light energy is released by atoms. It's made up of little clumps of tiny particles that have energy and momentum but no mass. These particles are called visible photons and are the fundamental units of light. Visible photons are released by atoms when electrons are excited. If you already know how atoms work, you know that electrons are negatively charged particles moving around the nucleus. Electrons in atoms have different levels of energy, depending on several factors, including their speed and distance from the nucleus. The different energy levels of the electron occupy different orbital functions and orbitals. In general, electrons with high energy are further away from the nucleus and when the atom gains or loses energy, it is represented by the movement of electrons. When something transfers energy to atoms - as in the case of heat - electrons can be temporarily pushed into a higher orbit (away from the nucleus). The electron only stays there for a very short time: it is almost immediately returned to the nucleus, to its original orbit. That's when the electrons release extra energy in the form of photons. The wavelength of light depends on how much energy is released, which depends on where the electron is in the orbital. As a result, atoms of different kinds release visible photons of different kinds. In other words, the color of light is determined by the number of atoms excited.