ray (physics)

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ray, in physics, term denoting the straight line along which light or other form of radiation is propagated from its source. It generally refers to the line of propagation of waves but is also applied to streams of particles such as the electrons emitted from a cathode or particles emitted by substances exhibiting radioactivity. See cosmic rays; X ray.

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1. (in optics) A narrow beam of radiation.

2. (in botany) See medullary ray.

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ray1 line of light XIV (various techn. senses from XVII). — (O)F. rai :- L. radius; see RADIUS.