Have you ever stopped to think about how important the sun is in our everyday life? Not just in terms of the light, we can see that it consists of the colors of the rainbow, but all of the other wavelengths of light that make up the full electromagnetic spectrum. Do you know all 7 of these wavelengths and how they are used? Well, in the following post, that’s what we are going to discuss.

Visible Light – What We Can See

When trying to understand the electromagnetic spectrum and what it is made up of, it is best to look at the wavelength of light that we are most familiar with, which has the most significant impact on our lives -visible light.

Visible light, as the name suggests, is what lets us see and enjoy the world around us. The different frequencies of this wavelength are experienced through the different colors we see that make up a rainbow. At the lower end, these frequencies are visible as reds through the highest visible wavelength frequencies that are detected as various forms of violet. Objects we see around us are perceived with different colors and hues based on the wavelength of light they absorb and reflect.

Radio Waves – Communication

At the lowest end of the electromagnetic spectrum, with the lowest frequencies, are radio waves. These are utilized to carry other signals to special receivers that can translate them into usable information. There are various objects, man-made and natural, that emit radio waves.

Any object that emits a measure of heat emits some degree of radiation, just at different levels. Planets, stars, and other bodies in space emit radio waves. Along with cellphone companies, television and radio stations all create radio waves to carry signals to receivers.

Infrared Waves – Imaging Technology

Sitting in the lower-middle range of the electromagnetic spectrum are infrared waves, between visible light and microwaves. Their sizes can range from microscopic measurements to just a few millimeters.

The longer infrared wavelengths produce some heat and radiation emitted by heat-producing objects like the sun and fire, whereas shorter infrared wavelengths do not produce heat and are used in imagining technologies and remote controls.

Microwaves – Heat and Data

The wavelengths with the second-lowest frequencies on the electromagnetic spectrum are microwaves. Microwaves can measure anything from as long as a foot down to just a few centimeters.

Microwaves can penetrate obstacles that would normally interfere with radio waves, thanks to their higher frequencies, like rain, smoke, and clouds. As you are probably aware, microwaves can do everything from carrying computer data transmissions, landline phone calls, and radar to cooking food.


At the other end of the spectrum, the extremely high energy waves with wavelengths of 0.03 to 3 nanometers, not even longer than an atom, are x-rays. These are emitted by objects and sources that can produce high temperatures like the corona of the sun.

Other natural sources of x=rays include black holes, supernovae, and pulsars. X-rays are commonly used in science and medicine for imaging technology that offers views of bone structures within human and animal bodies.

Ultraviolet Waves – Invisible Heat

Ultraviolet wavelengths are much shorter than those of visible light. These are the kind that is responsible for sunburn and cancer. It’s high-temperature processes that produce and emit these rays, and they are detected in every single star in the known universe.

Astronomers and scientists can use them to learn how galaxies are structured.

Gamma Rays

The highest frequency wavelengths in the whole electromagnetic spectrum are those of gamma waves. These are only produced and emitted by the most energetic objects in the cosmos, like black holes, supernovas, neutron stars, and pulsars. Sources of gamma rays on Earth include radioactive decay, nuclear explosions, and lightning.

These wavelengths are measured at a subatomic level and can pass through empty spaces within atoms. Gamma rays are hazardous and can destroy living cells. However, because of the makeup of the Earth’s atmosphere and the ozone layer, the gamma rays that manage to reach the planet are absorbed, which is why no one is at risk.