General Question

Bill1939's avatar

How does the Doppler effect shift light's wavelength?

Asked by Bill1939 (5699 points ) May 18th, 2014

Sound waves are compressed when the source is approaching the listener resulting in the pitch rising and expanded when moving away lowering the pitch. The color of stars moving toward us shifts toward blue and moving away shifts toward red. However, since a photon carries the electromagnetic frequency, and the velocity of a photon does not change, how can the direction the photon moves in relation to the observer effect its wavelength?

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6 Answers

jerv's avatar

The fact that light is both a wave and a particle is why physicists drink, but for purposes of Doppler Effect, the wave-like nature is what matters, not the photon.

Bill1939's avatar

Thanks @ARE_you_kidding_me, I had forgotten about the relativistic Doppler effect.

Dutchess_III's avatar

”....why physicists drink….ROFL!!

Khajuria9's avatar

The concept of relative velocities can be applied here which is the reason for the wavelength shift.

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