EQUINOX GRAPHICS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY EQUINOX GRAPHICS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Animation showing different wavelengths of electomagnetic radiation, and their behaviour in Earth's atmosphere. Wavelengths are shown in bands, with labels at the surface. X-ray and gamma rays, the highest energy radiation, are both blocked by the atmosphere. Ultraviolet light (between X-rays and visible light) is blocked by the ozone layer in the stratosphere, in the middle of the atmosphere. Visible light passes through, which allows us to see. Infrared radiation is mostly blocked by water and gases in the atmosphere. Microwaves and radio waves are fully transmitted, while longwave radio is blocked completely. One result of this pattern of absorbance is that radio and optical telescopes can be used from the ground, while UV, X-ray, gamma ray and infrared telescopes have to be in orbit.
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