Negative Energy Value for Hydrogen Energy Levels

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Alan Wu
Posts: 61
Joined: Sat Sep 14, 2019 12:16 am

Negative Energy Value for Hydrogen Energy Levels

Postby Alan Wu » Fri Oct 11, 2019 5:44 pm

Can someone explain why electrons bound to the various energy levels of hydrogen have negative energies as calculated by Rydberg's equation?

Reagan Smith 1H
Posts: 50
Joined: Sat Jul 20, 2019 12:16 am

Re: Negative Energy Value for Hydrogen Energy Levels

Postby Reagan Smith 1H » Fri Oct 11, 2019 5:49 pm

From what Dr. Lavelle described on Wednesday, the reference point for the energy of an electron is 0 because we assume it is not interacting with anything. The negative energy of the electron represents that an electron bound to an atom has a lower energy than that of a "free" electron, one that is not connected to any atom.

Shannon Asay 1C
Posts: 67
Joined: Fri Aug 09, 2019 12:16 am

Re: Negative Energy Value for Hydrogen Energy Levels

Postby Shannon Asay 1C » Fri Oct 11, 2019 5:51 pm

The electrons have negative energies according to Rydberg's equation because we take our reference point off an electron that has been completely removed and is no longer interacting with the nucleus as E=0. The minus sign is because the electron's energy has decreased and the energy is released as electromagnetic radiation as it comes back down to the different energy levels.


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