Gamma Rays

Adrianna Soltis 3rd

What's a Gamma Ray?

Gamma rays have the smallest wavelengths and the most energy of any wave in the electromagnetic spectrum. They are produced by the hottest and most energetic objects in the universe, such as neutron stars and pulsars, supernova explosions, and regions around black holes. On Earth, gamma waves are generated by nuclear explosions, lightning, and the less dramatic activity of radioactive decay.

Wavelength Range:

  • typically < 10^-12 m.

Frequency Range:

  • typically >10^20 Hz.

Velocity In A Vacuum:

  • 3.00*10^10 m/s.

Other key facts:

  • The energy of nuclear radiation is extremely high because such radiation is born in the intense conflict between the nuclear strong force and the electromagnetic force, the two strongest basic forces.
  • Gamma-ray wavelengths are so short that they can pass through the space within the atoms of a detector.

Everyday applications for Gamma Rays

  • Gamma rays can be used to sterilize medical equipment
  • Gamma rays can also be used to sterilize food.

Health positives:

  • Treats cancer
  • Kills bad cells

Health Negative:

  • Gamma rays cause cell damage and can cause a variety of cancers. They cause mutations in growing tissues, so unborn babies are especially vulnerable.

Interesting article:

  • This article is about the gamma ray and that over the years of studying and observing these gamma ray bursts, they learned that it's the highest energy form of light in the cosmos.


  • This video has no audio but I chose it because it shows how strong gamma rays and how it can even be visible from Earth, without the use of a telescope.