Difference Between X rays and Gamma rays (With Table)

Although x rays and gamma rays comprise similar basic properties, they are originated from different portions of the atom and have distinct differences from each other. X rays are used for seeing the internal parts of the human anatomy from the exterior, and gamma rays are used in killing cancer cells.

X rays vs Gamma rays

The main difference between X rays and Gamma rays is that the rate of production or emission of x rays can be altered with the help of tube voltage. On the other hand, the rate of production or emission of gamma rays cannot be altered from a radioactive source.

X-rays are familiar to every other person as it has vast usage in the field of medicine. The origination of x rays takes place from the exterior processes that are present outside the nucleus. The penetration properties of x rays are different from gamma rays as they possess less power of penetration.

Gamma rays are known to be packets that are weightlessly consisting of energy that are called photons. Gamma rays are pure energy that contradicts the other particles (alpha and beta particles) which have both mass and energy. Gamma rays are identical to visible light but they have a larger amount of energy.

Comparison Table Between X rays and Gamma rays

Parameters Of Comparison

X rays

Gamma rays


The X-ray tube is the famous terrestrial source producing x rays. Its emission can occur in the form of a by-product during nuclear transformation.

Gamma rays come out from the interior processes inside the nucleus. Its emission takes place while transformation occurs in atomic nuclei.


X rays have a lesser level of energy than gamma rays. Unlike gamma rays, the intensity of x rays is less.

Gamma rays have a higher level of energy than x rays. Unlike x rays, the intensity of gamma rays is high.

Penetration power

As x rays have a comparatively lesser level of energy than gamma rays, it has lower penetration power.

It has a higher energy level than x rays and has a high power of penetration that can get through tough skin, clothing, and even lead.

Effect on the human body

The exposure of x rays results in causing loss of hair, fainting, vomiting, bleeding, damages to the skin, and increase cancer risk slightly.

It can surpass human cells and tissues and cause ionizations. It damages tissues and hammers the DNA in the human body.


X-rays are used by human beings for checking fractures and other bone problems. It is used by mammograms to detect breast cancer.

Gamma rays are used for radiotherapy to kill cancer cells. It is used for sterilizing food and medical equipment.

What is X ray?

X-rays are considered to be electromagnetic waves that are used by the medical field for developing images of the body. Bones comprise calcium which absorbs the rays showing the white shade and the other tissues and fat showed gray shade in the x-ray. It does not contribute to the exposure of radiation to the human body during the conduct of the test. X-rays can be obtained from natural techniques as well as with the help of electricity. A huge number of x-ray machines are used in the medical field regularly and also in the industry for controlling processes and inspections.

Exclusive equipment of x-ray is used by computerized tomography that is also called a CT or CAT scan for producing a well-detailed image of bones as well as the body’s soft tissues. Medical x rays are considered to be one of the largest sources of exposure to radiation made by mankind. X rays are emitted when electrons are transmitted in excited shells of atoms to lower energy levels. When charged particles or electrons diverge, an x-ray spectrum is produced. This phenomenon is known as “bremsstrahlung” which means “braking radiation”, in german. The malignant tissue can be hampered as a result of x rays’ biological impact in x-ray therapy. With limited irradiation of tissues that are adjacent, high doses can be given to areas to an extent during its application to treat cancer patients.

What is Gamma ray?

While radioactive decay takes place, gamma rays are emitted at the same time during the emission of alpha particles and beta particles. For the whole body, gamma rays are considered to be hazardous radiation. They have a high capacity for penetration due to their energy. It can penetrate various barriers that can even prohibit the prohibition of penetration such as skin as well as clothing. it has a high power of penetrating barriers that can go beyond dense substances such as concrete or lead.

These rays can actively completely pass through the human body. High exposure to gamma rays can result in the damaging of cells. Low exposure to gamma rays results in a stochastic risk of health that is associated with the elevation of cancer induction along with the elevation of exposure. Some common sources of gamma radiation are the majority of radioisotopes that can be found during natural radiation decay sets of actinium, uranium, and thorium along with normally originating radioisotopes carbon- 14 and potassium- 40. Artificial gamma rays are originated from nuclear reactors by fission, nuclear explosions, huge energy experiments of physics, and accidents. Though gamma rays can penetrate through barriers, it is not considered to be radioactive. Technetium- 99m, cobalt- 60, and cesium- 137 are the radionuclides that are vastly used for application in different purposes. Their range of energies varies from 0.01 to 17.6 MeV.

Main Differences Between X rays and Gamma rays

  1. X-rays are emitted from X-ray tubes vastly and also by nuclear transformation. On the other hand, Gamma rays are produced from the interior of the nucleus.
  2. X rays have a lesser level of energy than gamma rays. The intensity of x rays is lesser than that of the gamma rays.
  3. X rays have lesser power of penetration whereas gamma rays have a high power of penetration.
  4. Exposure to x rays cause fainting, hair loss, skin damage, and others whereas exposure to gamma rays damages human cells and tissues.
  5. X-rays are used for checking fracture, bone structure, and detecting breast cancer. Gamma rays are used for destroying cancer cells.


Thus, it can be concluded by saying that x rays and gamma rays are different from each other considering several parameters like emission, intensity, power of penetration, effect on the human body, and their uses. the emission of x rays can also happen as a result of nuclear transformation and during transformation in atomic nuclei. Exposure of x rays causes a comparatively less negative impact on the human body and it causes short time impacts. On the other hand, exposure to gamma rays causes a detrimental effect on the human body and causes a long-term negative effect.


  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3571169
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1209610/