Visible Spectra of the Elements

2021-04-11: The Identification Game has been revamped with easier hints and a range of difficulty levels. It's a great way to learn to recognize the spectra, and the hints are always available so you're never stranded on an unfamiliar spectrum. And if you win, there's a cool surprise at the end.

Earlier Updates...
Why care about spectra? Don't spectra all look the same?

If the emission lines of the chemical elements were observed through a diffraction grating, they would look something like this (dynamic image - may take a moment to load):

Emission spectra of the elements
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High Resolution Version

Periodic table format

Interactive Format


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Due to frequent updates to the data, you may notice variances in the table above vs. the high res version v. the interactive version. When in doubt, the interactive version is always the most up to date.

This image is based on spectrum line positions and intensities from MIT Wavelength Tables (1938) and the NIST Atomic Spectrum Database. A few spectra (neon, for instance) have had corrections applied in order to more closely match my own personal observations.

Astatine is missing from this image as no visible lines of this element are known. Some lines of francium have been extrapolated from known energy levels.

Disclaimer: Spectra that have not been photographed might not look exactly like the image above. Some spectra may deviate considerably from the depictions pictured here. We are photographing as many element spectra as possible in order to confirm the line intensities of the source data. For most of the actinides, only a few bright lines are known, but the actual spectra should be about as complex as their corresponding lanthanides (compare actinium with thorium or plutonium with uranium and samarium), we just don't have data for most of the lines. Spectra that have been photographed do for certain look like the image above. Spectra not yet photographed or not sufficient quality image include: B, F, P, S, Cl, Se, Br, Rb, Tc, Ru, Rh, I, Cs, Pm, Ir, Po, Rn, Fr, Ra, and all of the actinides. All of these spectra should be treated as suspect in the image above.

The element spectrum images on this page, including the linked high resolution version and the periodic table format image, are Public Domain or CC0.