What Is Electromagnetic Energy?

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Electromagnetic energy is a form of energy that can be reflected or emitted from objects through electrical or magnetic waves traveling through space. Electromagnetic energy comes in many examples including gamma rays, X-rays, ultraviolet radiation, visible light, microwaves, radio waves and infrared radiation.

The electromagnetic spectrum is the range of all types of electromagnetic radiation (electromagnetic radiation being a type of electromagnetic energy). Electromagnetic radiation is a kind of energy that travels and spreads outward as it goes, such as the lamp sending visible light in a person’s home or the radio waves coming from the radio station. People encounter electromagnetic spectrum energy all the time.

Radio electromagnetic energy can be seen not only in the radio waves captured and emitted by radio stations, but also in the radio waves emitted by gases in space and stars in space. The microwave radiation cooks popcorn and is also used by astronomers to discover the structures of nearby galaxies. Infrared energy can be seen through night vision goggles and in space it helps astronomers map the dust found between the stars. Visible light is an energy that humans can detect on their own with their naked eye. Light bulbs, stars and fireflies all emit visible light. Ultraviolet radiation is emitted by the sun and is what gives humans skin burns or tans.