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spectral line[′spek·trəl ‚līn]
a thin line in an optical spectrum. Each such line can be characterized by a certain wavelength λ or frequency v = c/λ, where c is the speed of light. Spectral lines are observed in emission spectra as bright (colored) lines on a dark background and in absorption spectra as dark lines on a bright background. Each spectral line corresponds to a definite quantum transition in an atom, molecule, or crystal. Spectral lines are not strictly monochromatic: each one has a certain width Δλ.