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X-radiation (composed of X-rays) is a form of electromagnetic radiation. X-rays have a wavelength in the range of 10 to 0.01 nanometers, corresponding to frequencies in the range 30 petahertz to 30 exahertz (3 × 1016 Hz to 3 × 1019 Hz) and energies in the range 120 eV to 120 keV. They are shorter in wavelength than UV rays. In many languages, X-radiation is called Röntgen radiation after Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, who is generally credited as their discoverer, and who had called them X-rays to signify an unknown type of radiation.:1-2
X-rays are primarily used for diagnostic radiography and crystallography. As a result, the term X-ray is metonymically used to refer to a radiographic image produced using this method, in addition to the method itself. X-rays are a form of ionizing radiation and as such can be dangerous.
X-rays from about 0.12 to 12 keV are classified as soft X-rays, and from about 12 to 120 keV as hard X-rays, due to their penetrating abilities.
The distinction between X-rays and gamma rays has changed in recent decades. Originally, the electromagnetic radiation emitted by X-ray tubes had a longer wavelength than the radiation emitted by radioactive nuclei (gamma rays). So older literature distinguished between X- and gamma radiation on the basis of wavelength, with radiation shorter than some arbitrary wavelength, such as 10−11 m, defined as gamma rays. However, as shorter wavelength continuous spectrum "X-ray" sources such as linear accelerators and longer wavelength "gamma ray" emitters were discovered, the wavelength bands largely overlapped. The two types of radiation are now usually defined by their origin: X-rays are emitted by electrons outside the nucleus, while gamma rays are emitted by the nucleus.