by Madison Hadfield
What kind of disturbance creates an EM wave?
What are two ways that EM waves are different from mechanical waves?
Different Ranges of the EM Spectrum
X-rays range in wavelength from 0.01 – 10 nm, or from 1 x 10^-11 m to 1 x 10^-8 m (about the size of an atom). They are generated, for example, by super-heated gas from exploding stars and quasars, where temperatures are near a million to ten million degrees. The frequencies of X-rays span from 3 x 10^16 Hz to 3 x 10^19 Hz. The energy levels of X-ray waves cover 2 x 10^-17 J to 2 x 10^-14 J. X-ray waves are used by doctors to take X-rays of people's teeth. X-rays are also used in airports to scan the contents of travelers' luggage.
Gamma rays have the shortest wavelengths, < 0.01 nanometers, or < 1 x 10^-11 m. (about the size of an atomic nucleus). They have the highest frequency and the most energetic region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Gamma rays can result from nuclear reactions and from processes taking place in objects such as pulsars, quasars, and black holes. The frequencies of gamma rays are more than 3 x 10^19 Hz, and the energy levels are more than 2 x 10^-14 J. Gamma rays are used in medicine to kill and treat certain types of cancers and tumors. In addition, gamma rays can be used to kill harmful bacteria in food.