What is the difference between visible light and X-rays?


Quick Answer

According to NASA, visible light waves are the only electromagnetic waves that are seen with the naked eye. Visible light waves are known as the colors of the rainbow, and each color has a different wavelength. According to Georgia State University, visible light wavelengths are between 750 to 400 nanometers. X-rays are invisible and have much shorter wavelengths and a higher frequency than visible light.

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What is the difference between visible light and X-rays?
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Full Answer

The electromagnetic spectrum, or electromagnetic radiation, is a stream of protons traveling as waves. Protons are the energetic particles present in radiation that behave as both particles and waves. The electromagnetic spectrum ranks radiation from long wavelengths to short wavelengths. Shorter wavelengths have faster waves that are more dangerous to living organisms. X-rays are in the short wavelength category and are located near the end of the electromagnetic spectrum. They are highly energetic waves that are only second to gamma rays for the shortest wavelength. X-rays are used to view bones because the waves move fast enough to penetrate through the body. However, excessive X-ray radiation sometimes causes mutations that result in cancer.

Visible light waves are not dangerous because they have longer wavelengths and slower frequencies than X-rays. In other words, visible light waves are not as energetic and not as powerful as X-rays. Visible light waves are seen when a prism breaks up white light and divides it into the colors of the rainbow. Red has the longest wavelength; its particles travel the slowest. Violet has the shortest wavelength, which indicates that its particles travel the fastest and are the most energetic.

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