Gamma Rays: Electromagnetic Spectrum

Electromagnetic spectrum is the range of all frequencies of electromagnetic radiation which includes visible light as well as invisible radiations like radio waves, infrared rays, gamma rays. Electromagnetic radiation from spectrum have found multiple applications ranging from communication to manufacturing.

Gamma Rays Visibility of various electromagnetic radiations from Earth[/caption]

Gamma Rays in the Electromagnetic Spectrum:

Gamma-rays are high frequency (or shortest wavelength) electromagnetic radiation and therefore carry a lot of energy. They pass through most types of material. Only something really hard like a lead block or a thick concrete block can stop their transmission.

Gamma Rays

Gamma-rays have a wavelength range below 100 pm and frequencies greater than 10 Hz. As of now, they are the most energetic form of electromagnetic radiation in a range greater than 100 keV. Although Gamma rays were first observed in the 1900s by Paul Villard, a French chemist when he was investigating radium, Ernest Rutherford named them “Gamma Rays” (following the order after alpha rays and beta rays – other particles from nuclear radiation).

Gamma rays are one of the most energetic form of light produced in hottest areas of universe. They are also produced by  supernova explosions as well as by radioactive material in space. Gamma rays cannot be reflected in mirrors like X-rays, instead they will pass right through the mirror.

Gamma rays are a type of ionizing radiation and are hence extremely dangerous. Ionizing radiation are high energy radiation, enough to pull away electrons from their atoms, thereby charging the particles (converting them into ions), hence the name. The main ways of producing gamma-rays are by nuclear reactions.

  • Nuclear Fusion
  • Nuclear Fission
  • Alpha Decay
  • Gamma Decay

Uses of Gamma Rays:

  • Sterilise medical equipment
  • Sterilise food (irradiated food)
  • Used as tracers in medicine
  • Radio Therapy- In oncology, to kill cancerous cells
  • Gamma Ray Astronomy

Stay tuned with byju’s to learn more about gamma-rays and electromagnetic spectrum with interesting video lectures.


Practise This Question

Which of the following are not electromagnetic waves