Gamma rays are the highest energy form of electromagnetic radiation.
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Windows to the Universe
Gamma Ray Radiation
Gamma rays are an extremely high-energy form of electromagnetic
(EM) radiation. Gamma ray radiation has a much, much shorter wavelength than visible
light, so gamma ray photons have
much, much higher energies than photons of light do.
Gamma rays lie at the extreme high-energy end of the electromagnetic
which have slightly lower energies than gamma rays, are the neighbors of
gamma rays along the EM spectrum. In fact, the spectral ranges of hard X-rays and
rays overlap. Gamma rays have wavelengths of
about 100 picometers (100 x 10-12 meters)
or shorter, or energies per photon of
at least around 10 keV. This type of electromagnetic wave oscillates with
a frequency of 3 exahertz (EHz or
There is no sharp distinction between the highest energy X-rays and the lowest
energy gamma rays. The distinction between X-rays and gamma rays is actually
based on the origin of the radiation, not on the frequency or wavelength of
the electromagnetic waves. Gamma rays are produced by nuclear transitions,
while X-rays are the result of accelerating electrons.
Photons with energies between about 10 keV and a few hundred keV can be either
hard X-rays or gamma rays.
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