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Is the negative symbol in front of the equation just a symbol that there is an energy decrease, and the actual energy of each level is still positive, or is there another explanation?
The energy is still positive. It's just a convention to set the energy of free electrons as 0, which makes electrons in atoms have negative values when the formula you mentioned is applied.
The negative sign means the bound electron has lower energy than the free electron. The energy is still positive.
Negative because the energy of the electron is decreasing but the energy is positive because it is being released as a photon
The photon energies are always positive, but the negative signs accounts for the bound electron having a lower energy than a free electron.
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