150 years ago Discovering Helium Gas Astronomer: Pierre Janssen

Pierre Jules César Janssen became the first person to observe the helium, an unprecedented element in the solar spectrum, on August 18, 1868.

Pierre Jules César Janssen, in his writings from an observatory in Italy in December 1862, I got one of the most beautiful and least expected results, beautiful spectra with colors and splendid lines, just one more step and the chemical composition of the universe will emerge ".

Just as in the design of a telescope, the spectroscope works like a super-powerful prism that distributes light to measurable wave lengths, as is the case with the latest technology of the time and observations made by other Western astrophysicists. An unsupported model allowed the physicist Joseph Fraunhofer to observe the sun at the beginning of the 1800s, but was amazed by the black lines that cut through the normal colors. These black lines were named for Fraunhofer when they did not understand what they were. In 1859, Bunsen and Kirchoff discovered that heating different elements, creating bright light lines on the spectroscope, and these light lines corresponded to dark Fraunhofer lines.

Scientists observed bright lines appear when hot gas burned. For example, hydrogen turns orange, but when observed with a spectroscope, it is understood that the orange is composed of more than one individual narrow wavelength light. Similarly, the dark lines discovered by Fraunhofer represent the light absorbed by a cooler element on the surface of the sun. The American Institute of Physics says, "Two scientists have found that each chemical element produces a unique spectrum.


It has been reported that this kind of fingerprint provides a kind of fingerprint that can confirm the presence of the chemical.
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Deborah Warner, who works as a curator in the medical and science departments of American science history, said before the spectroscope that he had no idea what the sun was doing or what it was about stars. Janssen was enthusiastic about this new method of light analysis. Despite living in Paris, he traveled to Europe and Asia to find the most appropriate point of view to observe the night sky. He also visited Italy on September 18, 1867, and on August 18, 1868 Guntur went to India for solar eclipse. With this discovery, the French government and the National Academy of Sciences provided more than 75,000 francs for two trips.

But the high cost would bring a valuable investment. Janssen, observing by spectroscopy on the eclipse day, saw a bright yellow line that did not match any known element. The spectrum was the closest to that made by sodium, but it was clear enough to be worthy of its category. Janssen discovered a new element on Earth that was never seen before.


Although the Science Academy sent the discoveries immediately in August, the long distance between India and France meant that the letter had not been taken and read until October 26.

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At the same time, the Academy announced a similar observation from British astronomer Norman Lockyer. Astronomer Hervé Faye proposed a reconciliation: "It would be better if all dignity was attributed to thousands of scientists in an impartial manner, rather than trying to measure proportionally the justification of the discovery and consequently reduce it." Two researchers heartily accepted sharing the discovery honor, then close friends.