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Originally a spectrum was what was observed when white light was dispersed through a prism. Soon the term referred to a plot of light intensity as a function of frequency or wavelength. Planck later realized that frequency represents electromagnetic energy.
The recording and studying of spectrum of energy levels in atoms or molecules in the physical sciences is called spectroscopy. A device for recording a spectrum is a spectrometer or spectrophotometer. The latter term is used when an optical spectrum is recorded by the device.
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