X-radiation (composed of X-rays) is a form of electromagnetic radiation. Most X-rays have a wavelength ranging from 0.01 to 10 nanometers, corresponding to frequencies in the range 30 petahertz to 30 exahertz (3×1016 Hz to 3×1019 Hz) and energies in the range 100 eV to 100 keV. 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(s) in the English language includes the variants x-ray(s), xray(s), and X ray(s).
X-rays with photon energies above 5–10 keV (below 0.2–0.1 nm wavelength) 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; the attenuation length of 600 eV (~2 nm) X-rays in water is less than 1 micrometer.