Difference between Gamma Ray and X-Ray
X-rays should be familiar to anyone who has had to undergo the procedure before, but gamma rays are a bit less familiar. In fact, most people of a certain age and demographic typically associate gamma rays with a well-known comic book character, although this comparison article should show that there is a lot more to it than that.
X-ray is a type of electromagnetic radiation, and its wavelength ranges from 0.01 to 10 nanometers, which places its frequencies in the 30 petahertz to 30 exahertz range. This means that X-rays have shorter wavelengths than UV rays and longer wavelengths than gamma rays. X-radiation is also often referred to as Röntgen radiation, after the scientist who discovered them, Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen. The name stems from the fact that X-radiation was a previously unknown form of radiation.
Gamma rays are also comprised of electromagnetic radiation of high frequencies. These rays are produced through the interaction of sub-atomic particles via electron-positron annihilation, fusion, and fission among other processes. Gamma rays generally have frequencies higher than 1019 Hz, and their energies are measured as higher than 100 keV, with wavelengths less than 10 picometers, which makes them smaller than atoms. Gamma rays that result from radioactive decay have energies that are measured at a few hundred keV, and they are generally less than 10 MeV. While there is no lower limit to such energies, the upper limit has been pegged at approximately 20 MeV.
X-rays are commonly used in many aspects of everyday life. They are a common feature in airport security systems for instance, and they are also widely used in industries such as crystallography, astronomy, and fluorescence, in addition to various other industrial applications.
Gamma rays on the other hand aren't used nearly as much, mostly because they are very radioactive, and they can cause significant damage to tissue cells. That being said, there are various uses for gamma rays in everyday life, such as for irradiation, nuclear medicine, semi-precious stone, medical equipment sterilization, pasteurization of some food, measuring the thickness of metal, and measuring the density of soil.
As mentioned previously, gamma rays are quite a bit more harmful than X-rays, and they can be very dangerous to humans. Gamma rays can also penetrate into numerous materials to a considerable degree, and they can subsequently cause powerful ionizing radiation. In fact, prolonged exposure to gamma rays can result in cancer, which makes the basic premise of a certain comic book a bit less plausible.
Similarities and Differences
- Often referred to as Röntgen radiation, after the scientist who discovered them, Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen
- Wavelength ranges from 0.01 to 10 nanometers
- Widely used in industries such as crystallography, astronomy, and fluorescence
- X-rays are emitted by the sun.
- Comprised of electromagnetic radiation of high frequencies
- Generally have frequencies higher than 1019 Hz, and their energies are measured as higher than 100 keV
- Very radioactive and can cause significant damage to tissue cells
- Gamma rays are emitted by the sun.