X-radiation is a form of electromagnetic radiation. Most X-rays have a wavelength in the range of 0.01 to 10 nanometers, corresponding to frequencies in the range 30 petahertz to 30 exahertz and energies in the range 100 eV to 100 keV. However, much higher-energy X-rays can be generated for medical and industrial uses, for example radiotherapy, which utilizes linear accelerators to generate X-rays in the ranges of 6–20 MeV. X-ray wavelengths are shorter than those of UV rays and typically longer than those of gamma rays. In many languages, X-radiation is referred to with terms meaning Röntgen radiation, after Wilhelm Röntgen, who is usually credited as its discoverer, and who had named it X-radiation to signify an unknown type of radiation. Spelling of X-ray in the English language includes the variants x-ray, xray and X ray.
X-rays with photon energies above 5–10 keV are called hard X-rays, while those with lower energy are called soft X-rays. Due to their penetrating ability hard X-rays are widely used to image the inside of objects, e.g. in medical radiography and airport security. 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. Since the wavelengths of hard X-rays are similar to the size of atoms they are also useful for determining crystal structures by X-ray crystallography. By contrast, soft X-rays are easily absorbed in air and the attenuation length of 600 eV X-rays in water is less than 1 micrometer.