Gamma ray

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noun, plural: gamma rays

Very powerful and penetrating, high-energy electromagnetic radiation of shorter wavelength than that of X-rays


The electromagnetic spectrum pertains to the entire range of wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation. It includes gamma rays, X-rays, UV, visible light, infrared, microwaves, and radio waves.

Gamma radiation is the emission of gamma rays. Gamma rays are very powerful and penetrating, high-energy rays. They have the shortest wavelength (less than a nanometer) among the other forms of electromagnetic radiation. They are emitted by a decaying nucleus, usually between 0.01 and 10 mev. They are also called nuclear X-rays. They are denoted by the Greek letter γ. Gamma rays have energies greater than (roughly) 100 kev (that is, 100,000 electron volts).

Gamma rays are similar to X-rays, but are generally higher in energy and nuclear in origin. Gamma rays have wavelengths of 1 nanometre or shorter. These are highly energized, deeply penetrating photons which can be emitted from an atomic nucleus during nuclear fission (the splitting of an atom) and during regular atomic decay (radioactivity).


  • nuclear X-ray

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