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Q & A: Relativity and red shift

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Most recent answer: 01/04/2008
Q:
If the speed light is fixed due to relativity how can we see red or blue shifts?
- Glen Reeves
NY, NY
A:
There is no problem.  The red shift of light is similar to a Doppler shift of sound in air.   In air you can hear the shift in frequency of a siren depending on whether it is coming toward you (higher frequency  => blue shift) or away from you (lower frequency => red shift). The equations for light  are quite similar when the velocities small compared to the speed of light but get a bit more complicated for higher values. Nevertheless the redshift is a well defined property of special relativity and the speed of light.

LeeH


(published on 01/04/2008)

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