• Absorption lines appear as dark lines in an otherwise continuous spectrum. Emission lines are bright lines that appear in an otherwise nonexistent spectrum. They both result from the fact that gases are selective absorbers and emitters of light. Each gas absorbs its on specific frequencies of light. So, if a continuous spectrum of light shines through a gas, then that gas will absorb those specific frequencies and reradiate them in random directions. this creates dark absorption lines in the spectrum. However, if the observer is in a position to see the only the radiation being given off by the gas, then rather than a continuous spectrum with absorption lines, he will see just the frequencies of the emission bands. The emission bands will exactly correspond to the frequencies of the absorption lines in the absorption spectrum for that gas. For more see

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