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The Question

(Submitted October 28, 1996)

What is a gamma-ray? And how does an X-ray in space work?

The Answer

X-rays and gamma-rays are like the light we can see with our eyes and the radio waves we can detect with radio and TV sets. The only difference is how fast they vibrate. Radio waves vibrate the most slowly, then microwaves and infra-red (heat) waves, then the colors red to violet, then ultra-violet radiation (which causes sun-burn among other things) then X-rays, and finally (vibrating the most quickly) gamma-rays.

Imagine the Universe! provides a great deal of information about X-rays and gamma-rays at the high school level. If you are younger than that you might also want to take a look at the StarChild site.

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