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Electromagnetic Spectrum



When you tune your radio, watch TV, send a text message, or pop popcorn in a microwave oven, you are using electromagnetic energy. You depend on this energy every hour of every day. Without it, the world you know could not exist.

Electromagnetic energy travels in waves and spans a broad spectrum from very long radio waves to very short gamma rays. The human eye can only detect only a small portion of this spectrum called visible light. A radio detects a different portion of the spectrum, and an x-ray machine uses yet another portion. NASA's scientific instruments use the full range of the electromagnetic spectrum to study the Earth, the solar system, and the universe beyond.

The different electromagnetic radiations have different wavelengths. The visible light have radiations of wave lengths between 3800Å - 7600 Å. Different colors in the visible light correspond to different wavelengths. In addition to the visible light there are many other electromagnetic radiations, such as X-rays, U.V. - rays, I. R. - rays, radio waves, microwaves etc.
The arrangement of all electromagnetic radiations in the increasing order of their wavelengths or decreasing order of their frequencies is called Electromagnetic Spectrum.

Radio: Your radio captures radio waves emitted by radio stations, bringing your favorite tunes. Radio waves are also emitted by stars and gases in space.

Microwave: Microwave radiation will cook your popcorn in just a few minutes, but is also used by astronomers to learn about the structure of nearby galaxies.

Infrared: Night vision goggles pick up the infrared light emitted by our skin and objects with heat. In space, infrared light helps us map the dust between stars.

Visible: Our eyes detect visible light. Fireflies, light bulbs, and stars all emit visible light.

Ultraviolet: Ultraviolet radiation is emitted by the Sun and are the reason skin tans and burns. "Hot" objects in space emit UV radiation as well.

X-ray: A dentist uses X-rays to image your teeth, and airport security uses them to see through your bag. Hot gases in the Universe also emit X-rays.

Gamma ray: Doctors use gamma-ray imaging to see inside your body. The biggest gamma-ray generator of all is the Universe.
The electromagnetic spectrum shown with familiar sources

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