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Question Video: Identifying the Balmer Series of Electron Transitions Physics • 9th Grade

Which of the following diagrams best represents the Balmer series of transitions? [A] Diagram A [B] Diagram B [C] Diagram C [D] Diagram D


Video Transcript

Which of the following diagrams best represents the Balmer series of transitions?

We’re being asked about electron energy level transitions and specifically to choose which of the four diagrams shows the Balmer series of transitions. Before we can choose the right diagram, we should remind ourselves about how electron transition series are named.

First of all, only transitions where an electron loses energy, or goes from a higher energy level to a lower one, belong to named series such as the Balmer series. Transitions where electrons gain energy and go up to higher energy levels are not included in these named series. This allows us to eliminate answer options (A) and (C).

Importantly, it’s the energy level that the electron transitions down to that determines which series the transition is a part of. It does not matter which energy level the electron started from. Electron transitions down to level 1 are part of the Lyman series. Transitions down to level 2 are part of the Balmer series. And transitions down to level 3 are known as the Paschen series.

When we look at the remaining answer options, we see that option (D) shows transitions to the third energy level, which is the Paschen series. Option (B) shows transitions down to the second energy level, which is the Balmer series we are looking for. Our final answer is option (B).

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