Zyra's front page //// Science //// site index //// e-mail
Higher frequencies than GAMMA rays?
In the electromagnetic spectrum, the scale normally ends at GAMMA RAYS. However, I have been asked what happens after that? And also, what are the sources of these high-frequencies?
The concepts here are curious. Above light there us ultraviolet (UV) which is invisible but can do things to your skin. Then above that there's x-rays to which the human body is near-transparent and so are used for displaying the insides of the body on film. Above that it's not easy to generate the frequencies that high using vacuum tubes. But in space there are cosmic gamma rays which are much higher frequencies.
What happens is that the rays become more like particles than waves of electromagnetism, and are measured in energy units (Joules) rather than frequencies (Hertz).
Supernovae and various types of exploding stars produce all sorts of high-energy stuff, and items falling relatively fast into black holes generally go bang before they disappear. All these non-tranquil events produce very high energy particle/waves which then go flying off in the vastness of the universe. Some of them end up wherever you happen to be. If you're in space, even in a spacecraft, you can sometimes see a flash in your eye, a sure sign that a cosmic particle has just hit.
A great many cosmic particles coming in are not gamma rays but high-energy protons. Definitely particles. Some of these hit the upper atmosphere which results in muons arriving on earth.