Electromagnetic Spectrum Tour

  • By Rick Groleau
  • Posted 01.08.02
  • NOVA

Light, heat, radio signals, and medical X-rays are all forms of electromagnetic radiation—waves moving through space that are delivered by massless particles called photons. The only thing that differentiates one type of electromagnetic radiation from any other is the energy carried by its photons. Here, take a tour of the spectrum that begins with radio waves and takes you through microwaves, infrared radiation, light, ultraviolet radiation, X-rays, and gamma rays.

Launch Interactive

Explore the spectrum—from radio waves to gamma rays—with this quick primer.

This feature originally appeared on the site for the NOVA program Death Star.



Nobeyama Radio Observatory
NASA/CXC/SAO/Rutgers/J.Hughes; (gamma) GSFC/NASA

Related Links

  • Hunting the Edge of Space: Hr 1

    The Mystery of the Milky Way: From Galileo's to today's, telescopes have opened grand vistas onto our galaxy and beyond.

  • Decoding Cosmic Spectra

    Play astronomer and analyze the spectral fingerprints of a planet, star, galaxy, and nebula.

  • Detecting Life Beyond Earth

    In this video and quiz, see how scientists sniff out signs of life on distant planets, then try it yourself.

  • How Hubble Sees

    Assemble the famous image of the Eagle Nebula from the Hubble Space Telescope's raw data.


You need the Flash Player plug-in to view this content.