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How can electromagnetic waves travel in a vacuum?


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Answered 2011-04-14 03:19:10

Electromagnetic waves can travel in a vacuum because this wave is a moving magnetic and electric field. These fields do not require a medium to travel in, and they "carry" the energy of the electromagnetic wave with them. This makes the electromagnetic wave different from mechanical waves like sound.

With mechanical waves, we find the source putting the energy of the wave into the medium through which it is going to travel. Electromagnetic waves carry the electromagnetic energy away from the source without a need for a medium through which to travel. The moving fields carry the energy of the wave, and a vacuum presents no obstruction to the waves at all.

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