Pickering series

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The Pickering series refers to three lines of singly ionized helium found, usually in absorption, in the spectra of hot stars like Wolf-Rayet stars. The name comes from Edward Charles Pickering. The lines are produced by transitions of an electron with principal quantum number n=4 state from a higher energy level. The lines have wavelengths:

  • 4551 angstroms (n=9 to n=4)
  • 5411 angstroms (n=7 to n=4)
  • 10123 angstroms (n=5 to n=4)

The n=6 and n=8 transitions overlap with hydrogen lines and were not seen.

Pickering assumed that the lines were created by a new form of hydrogen with half-integer transition levels. This turned out to be false.

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