Electric and Magnetic Properties of Light

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To find out more about the diagram above . . . . read on!

Electric and Magnetic Properties of Light

Look carefully at the diagram at the top of the page. Now check out the following questions (and answers)!

  1. What does propagate mean?
  2. Are electromagnetic waves the same as light waves?
  3. What are the two fields that form an electromagnetic wave?
  4. What is the angle between the electric and magnetic fields of an electromagnetic wave?
  5. What speed does light travel at in a vacuum?

About the Diagram

Introducing the diagram! Read back and forward between the image at the top of the page and the explanation below!

This diagram shows that an electromagnetic wave (lightwave) results from the interaction of an electric field and magnetic field.

  • Electromagnetic waves are produced by the Sun as a result of thermonuclear fusion.
  • The explosive force of thermonuclear fusion is caused by gravity crushing hydrogen atoms until they collapse.
  • The nuclear reaction forces hydrogen atoms to combine into helium atoms and release vast amounts of electrical and magnetic energy.
  • The electrical and magnetic forces form fields which interact with each other to produce a wave pattern that radiates out into space at the speed of light.
  • The electromagnetic waves are of every imaginable size. The smallest (gamma rays) transport the most energy. The largest (radio waves) transport the least.
  • Candles and light bulbs also involve heating materials until they give off light.

In the diagram:

  • The magnetic wave is coloured red and yellow and forms the vertical axis.
  • The electrical wave is coloured blue and violet and forms the horizontal axis.
  • The direction of propagation is from left to right.

Follow the blue links for definitions . . . . or check the summaries of key terms below!

Some Key Terms

Move to the next level! Check out the following terms.

Electric field

An electric field is created by a change in voltage (charge). The higher the voltage the stronger the field. Whilst ...
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Electromagnetic radiation

Electromagnetic radiation is a type of energy more commonly simply called light. Detached from its source, it is transported by ...
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Electromagnetic wave

An electromagnetic wave carries electromagnetic radiation. An electromagnetic wave is formed as electromagnetic radiation propagates from a light source, travels ...
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Magnetic field

A magnetic field is created when electric current flows. The greater the current the stronger the magnetic field. Whilst an ...
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Wavelength

Wavelength is a measurement from any point on the path of a wave to the same point on its next ...
Read More

More Information

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Diagrams are optimized for printing on A4 pages in portrait format.

ABOUT DIAGRAMS

Diagrams


Some images on this website are available for download as either slides or diagrams.

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  • Size: 1686 pixels wide. So all diagrams reproduce at the same scale when inserted into Word documents etc.
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  • Diagrams are available in two file formats: JPG, AI (Adobe Illustrator).

Diagrams are optimized for printing on A4 pages in portrait format.
Slides are optimized for viewing on-screen or using a projector.

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  • All AI images available for download from lightcolourvision.org are 1686px wide.
  • All the images on these Resource Pages were created in Adobe Illustrator and are vector drawings.
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