Light waves throughout the electromagnetic spectrum act in similar ways. When a light tide encounters an object, they room eithertransfer , reflected, absorbed, refracted, polarized, diffracted, or scattered depending on the composition of the object and the wavelength that the light.

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Specialized tools onboard spacecraft and also airplanes collect data on exactly how electromagnetic tide behave as soon as they interact with matter. This data can reveal the physical and chemical composition of matter.



Reflection is when occurrence light (incoming light) hits an object and bounces off. Really smooth surfaces such together mirrors reflect nearly all event light.

The color of an item is actually the wavelength of the irradiate reflected if all various other wavelengths room absorbed. Color, in this case, describes the different wavelengths of irradiate in the visible irradiate spectrum viewed by ours eyes. The physical and also chemical composition of matter determines which wavelength (or color) is reflected.

This reflective actions of irradiate is supplied by lasers onboard"s Lunar reconnaissance Orbiter to map the surface ar of the Moon. The instrument steps the time that takes a laser pulse come hit the surface and return. The much longer the solution time, the farther far the surface and lower the elevation. A shorter response time means the surface ar is closer or greater in elevation. In this image of the Moon"s southerly hemisphere, low elevations are shown as purple and also blue, and also high elevations are shown in red and also brown.



Absorption occurs when photons from incident light hit atoms and molecules and also cause them to vibrate. The an ext an object"s molecule move and also vibrate, the hotter it becomes. This warmth is climate emitted from the object as thermal energy.

Some objects, such as darker colored objects, absorb an ext incident light energy than others. Because that example, black color pavement absorbs most visible and also UV energy and reflects an extremely little, while a light-colored concrete sidewalk reflects more energy 보다 it absorbs. Thus, the black pavement is hotter 보다 the sidewalk ~ above a warm summer day. Photons bounce roughly during this absorption procedure and lose bits of energy to numerous molecules follow me the way. This thermal power then radiates in the type of longer wavelength infrared energy.

Thermal radiation indigenous the energy-absorbing asphalt and also roofs in a city can raise its surface ar temperature by as lot as 10° Celsius. The Landsat 7 satellite image below shows the city of Atlanta as an island that heat compared to the surrounding area. Sometimes this warming that air over cities have the right to influence weather, i m sorry is called the "urban warm island" effect.



Diffraction is the bending and spreading of waves roughly an obstacle. That is most pronounced when a light tide strikes an object with a size equivalent to its own wavelength. An instrument referred to as a spectrometer uses diffraction to separate light right into a variety of wavelengths—a spectrum. In the situation of clearly shows light, the separation of wavelengths v diffraction outcomes in a rainbow.

A spectrometer provides diffraction (and the succeeding interference) of irradiate from slits or gratings to different wavelengths. Pass out peaks of power at particular wavelengths can then it is in detected and also recorded. A graph of this data is dubbed a spectral signature. Trends in a spectral signature aid scientists recognize the physical condition and also composition of stellar and also interstellar matter.

The graph below from the SPIRE infrared spectrometer onboard the ESA (European room Agency) Herschel an are telescope reveals solid emission lines from carbon monoxide (CO), atom carbon, and also ionized nitrogen in Galaxy M82.

Scattering occurs when light bounces off an object in a range of directions. The amount of scattering that takes place depends on the wavelength of the light and also the size and structure the the object.

The sky appears blue because of this scattering behavior. Light at much shorter wavelengths—blue and also violet—is scattered by nitrogen and also oxygen together it passes through the atmosphere. Longer wavelengths the light—red and also yellow—transmit v the atmosphere. This scattering of irradiate at much shorter wavelengths illuminates the skies through light native the blue and also violet end of the clearly shows spectrum. Also though violet is scattered much more than blue, the sky looks blue to us due to the fact that our eye are an ext sensitive to blue light.

Aerosols in the environment can likewise scatter light."s Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and also Infrared Pathfinder Satellite observation (CALIPSO) satellite deserve to observe the scattering the laser pulses come "see" the distributions of aerosols from sources such together dust storms and also forest fires. The image listed below shows a volcano ash cloud drifting over Europe from an eruption the Iceland"s Eyjafjallajökull Volcano in 2010.

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Refraction is once light waves adjust direction as they happen from one tool to another. Light travels slow in air 보다 in a vacuum, and even slow in water. As light travels right into a various medium, the readjust in rate bends the light. Different wavelengths that light are slowed at different rates, which reasons them to bend at different angles. 

For example, as soon as the full spectrum that visible irradiate travels with the glass the a prism, the wavelengths space separated into the color of the rainbow.

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CitationAPAMLA Mission Directorate. "Wave Behaviors" 2010. National Aeronautics and an are Administration.