Huggins, Maxwell, 1868 //Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London 158 (1868)

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together with copper bands. These plates are fixed into varnished plates of wood, which form covers to the cells. In each wooden cover is a slit of the length of the width of the carbon plates, by which an amalgamated zinc plate can be inserted between the plates of graphite. An important part of the arrangement is a third large cell of ebonite, which is filled with water acidulated with a few drops of sulphuric acid, and contains at the bottom some mercury. As soon as a plate is removed from the battery after use, it is rubbed clean under running water, and then immersed in the spare cell until it is again required. By this arrangement the plates are always clean and perfectly amalgamated. The solution employed to charge the battery is a saturated solution of bichromate of potash, to which about part of sulphuric acid has been added. The battery is sufficiently powerful and always ready for instant use. For the convenience of varying the power of the battery, three sets of zinc plates are kept in the spare cell; the plates are

2 inches, 4 inches, and 6 inches in width.

§ III. Observations of Nebulas.

For the greater convenience of reference and of comparison, the spectrum of 37 H. IV. Draconis from my paper “ On the Spectra of some of the Nebulae”*, has been added to fig. 2, Plate XXXIII. The spectrum of this nebula may be taken as characteristic, in its general features, of the spectra of all the nebulae which do not give a continuous spectrum. At present I have determined satisfactorily the general characters of the spectra of about seventy nebulae. This number forms but a part of the much larger list of nebulae which I have examined, but in the case of many of these objects their light was found to be too feeble for a satisfactory analysis. Of these seventy nebulae about one-third give a spectrum of bright lines. The proportion, which is indicated by this examination, of the nebulae which give a spectrum of bright lines to those of which the spectrum is continuous (namely, as one to two), is probably higher than would result from a wider observation of the objects contained in such catalogues as those of Sir John Hersciiel and Dr. D’Arrest, since many of the objects which I examined were specially selected, on account of the probability (which was suggested by their form or colour) that they were gaseous in constitution.

All the differences which I have hitherto observed between the spectra of the gaseous nebulae may be regarded as modifications only of the typical form of spectrum which is represented in the diagram, since they consist of differences of relative intensity, of the deficiency of one or two lines, or of the presence of one or two additional lines. It is worthy of remark that, so far as the nebulae have been examined, the brightest of the three lines, which agrees in position in the spectrum •jvith the brightest of the lines of the spectrum of nitrogen, is present in all the nebulae which give a spectrum indicative of gaseity. It is a suggestive fact that should not be overlooked, that in no nebula which has a spectrum of bright lines, has any additional line been observed on the less refrangible and brighter side of the line common to all the gaseous nebulae.

* Philosophical Transactions, 1864, p. 438.

The faint continuous spectrum, which in some cases is also seen, has been traced in certain nebulae, by its breadth, to a distinct brighter portion of the nebula which it is convenient still to distinguish by the term “nucleus,” though at present we know nothing of the true relation of the bright points of the nebulae to the more diffused surrounding portions.

It must not be forgotten that when gases are rendered luminous there may usually be detected a faintly luminous continuous spectrum. In the case of several of the nebulae, such as the annular nebula of Lyra and the Dumb-bell nebula, no existence of even a faint continuous spectrum has been yet certainly detected.

The determination of the position in the spectrum of the three bright lines was obtained by simultaneous comparison with the lines of hydrogen, nitrogen, and barium. The instrument which I employed had two prisms, each with a refracting angle of 60°, and the positions of the lines were trustworthy within the limits of about the breadth of the double line D.

The objects which I proposed to myself, in attempting a reexamination of some of the nebulae with the large instrument described in this paper, were to determine, first, whether any of the nebulae were possessed of a motion which could be detected by a change of refrangibility; secondly, whether the coincidence which had been observed of the first and the third line with a line of hydrogen and a line of nitrogen would be found to hold good when subjected to the test of a spreading out of the spectrum three or four times greater than that under which the former observations were made. It would not, it seemed, be difficult, in the case of the detection of a want of coincidence, to separate the effects of the two distinct sources referred to, from both of which equally a minute difference of refrangibility between the nebular lines and those of terrestrial substances might arise. The probability is very great indeed that in all the nebulae which give the kind of spectrum of which I am speaking, the two lines referred to are to be attributed to the same two substances, and that therefore, in all these nebulae, they were originally of the same degree of refrangibility. On the other hand, it is not to be supposed that nebulae situated in different positions in the heavens would have a similar motion relatively to the earth. An examination of several nebulae would therefore show to which of these causes any observed want of coincidence was to be attributed.

The Great Nebula in Orion.—In my description of this nebula* I stated that the light from all the parts of this strangely diversified object, which were bright enough to be observed with my instrument, was resolved into three bright lines similar to those represented in the diagram.

On the present occasion I applied myself in the first place to as careful a comparison as possible of the brightest line with the corresponding line of the spectrum of nitrogen.

My first observations were made with the light from the induction-spark taken in pure nitrogen sealed in a tube at a tension a little less than that of the atmosphere, which

* Proceedings of the Eoyal Society, vol. xiv. p. 39.

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