Electromagnetic Waves

Otherwise known as an "EM" wave

What is an electromagnetic wave?

An electromagnetic wave is a wave that travels at the speed of light and consists of a combined electric and magnetic effect. They can travel through a vacuum, like space, and unlike mechanical waves, they do not need a medium.

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What kind of disturbance creates an EM wave

When there is a change in the magnetic field, it causes another change in the electric field, and vise versa. The changes in these fields are the cause of EM waves.

Electromagnetic Waves vs. Mechanical Waves

For one, mechanical waves require a medium to pass through. Electromagnetic waves, on the contrary, do not require a medium, therefore allowing them to pass through vacuums. Another name for a mechanical wave is an elastic wave, because their propagation depends on the how elastic the medium it travels through is. Electromagnetic waves are caused by varying electric and magnetic fields, and produced by the vibration of charged particles.
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Ranges of the Electromagnetic Spectrum

Radio Waves- These waves have the longest wavelength in the electromagnetic spectrum. Because of the long wavelength, they also have lower frequencies. Additionally, they have low energy.

Microwaves- Microwaves, like radio waves, have long wavelengths. They also have slightly higher frequencies than radio waves, as well as slightly higher energy.

Infrared- This wave has a broad range of possible wavelengths and frequencies, including far-infrared, mid-infrared, and near-infrared. The wavelengths range from 300 GHz to 400 THz. As the wavelengths get shorter, the frequency starts to get higher.

Visible Light- The colors of the rainbow included in the visible light spectrum each have different wavelengths and frequencies, with violet having the shortest and red having the longest. Violet has the highest frequency, and red has the lowest. All colors have higher energy than infrared waves.

Ultra-Violet- These waves have shorter wavelengths than visible light waves, but are invisible to the human eye. These waves also have higher frequencies than visible light waves. The energy is very high.

X-Ray- X-rays have much higher frequencies, and much shorter wavelengths than ultra-violet rays. They are more often referred to by scientists by how high their energy is.

Gamma Ray- These waves have the highest energy, shortest wavelengths, and highest frequency out of all the waves in the electromagnetic spectrum. Gamma rays are generated by nuclear explosions on earth.