Blue Shift

The movement of light toward a shorter wavelength as an object moves towards an observer. Used in cosmology to determine the distance of stars from the earth.

The term applies to any decrease in wavelength and increase in frequency caused by relative motion, even outside the visible spectrum. Only objects moving at near-relativistic speeds toward the observer are noticeably bluer to the naked eye, but the wavelength of any reflected or emitted lightwave is shortened in the direction of travel. For example, the Andromeda Galaxy is moving towards our own Milky Way galaxy within the Local Group; thus, when observed from Earth, its light is undergoing a blueshift.

The nature of Red and Blue Shift is applicable at the quantum level. The shape of the atom is determined by its chemical properties only, and so the various isotopes of each atom all have the same shape. What distinguishes one isotope from another is its blue-shift. Heavier versions with more neutrons emit bluer light.

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