The splitting of spectral lines when an external magnetic field is applied.
Discovered in 1896 by P. Zeeman. In the normal Zeeman effect a single line is split into three if the field is perpendicular to the light path or two lines if the field is parallel to the light path. This effect can be explained by classical electromagnetic principles in terms of the speeding up and slowing down of orbital electrons in the source as a result of the applied field. The anomalous Zeeman effect is a complicated splitting of the lines into several closely spaced lines, so called because it does not agree with classical predictions. This effect is explained by quantum mechanics in terms of electron spin.