Why is electromagnetic radiation a transverse wave?

1 Answer
Nov 10, 2015


Because the direction of displacement is perpendicular to the direction of wave travel.


Simple Explanation

An electromagnetic wave travels in a wave shape, with peaks and troughs like an ocean wave.


The displacement or amplitude is how far the particle is from the initial starting position, or for an ocean wave how far above or below the sea level the water is.

In a transverse wave the displacement is perpendicular (at an angle of #90^@#to the direction of travel. In the case of the ocean wave the direction of displacement (up and down) is perpendicular to the direction of wave movement (horizontally along the water) so it is a transverse wave.

Electromagnetic waves are also transverse waves because the direction of particle displacement is also perpendicular to the direction of movement, producing the waveform of visible light, and other types of electromagnetic radiation.


Advanced Explanation
I have found I very helpful site if you want to know more about the way electromagnetic radiation works here and I would recommend reading it.