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X-rays Light

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1. X-ray Production by Compton Scattering of Microwave Background
The energy of the X-ray goes tearing into one of the electrons away from its orbit around the nucleus of a nitrogen or an oxygen atom. (Credit: CXC/S.Lee)

Related Field Guide: X-Rays - Another Form of Light

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2. Photon Emission

Light is composed of packets of electromagnetic energy called photons. Photons are produced sporadically when electrons (yellow), are accelerated by close approaches to ions (blue). As the temperature rises the photon production increases. View the animation. (Illustration: CXC/D.Berry)


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3. X-ray Producing Collision (Bremsstrahlung)
X-rays can be produced by a high-speed collision between an electron and a proton. This process is called bremsstrahlung, which is German for "braking radiation."
More Information (Illustration: CXC/S. Lee)

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4. Inverse Compton Scattering
In this process the collision of an energetic electron with a photon can increase the energy of the photon.
More Information (Illustration: CXC/S. Lee)

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5. Synchrotron Radiation
Electrons moving near the speed of light can radiate photons by the synchrotron process as they spiral around a magnetic field.
More Information(Illustration: CXC/S. Lee)

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6. Atomic Emission
Electrons "falling" into lower energy states emit photons in a very narrow energy band. The energy of such an emission line photon is determined by the structure of the atom, so emission line photons can be used as an indicator that a particular atom is present in a cosmic source.
More Information (Illustration: CXC/S. Lee)

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7. Charge-Exchange
Charge-exchange is an atomic collision process in which a charged ion, for example, a carbon or oxygen ion, collides with a neutral atom or molecule and captures one of its electrons. A photon is emitted as the captured electron drops to a lower energy state. (Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss)