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Characteristic energy transitions for the hydrogen atom are shown. The electron of the hydrogen atom can assume different quantum numbers \( n \).
- Lyman series are all energy transitions from m=2 to n=1.
- Balmer series are all energy transitions from m=3 to n=2.
- Paschen series are all energy transitions from m=4 to n=3.
The positive integer \( m \) indicates from which energy level the electron has transitioned, for example to n=1.
If you irradiate a hydrogen atom with light, it is excited and emits light of a certain frequency. From the frequency it can be determined which energy transition has taken place.