Glossary term: Wave

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Description: Any pattern that propagates through space with little or no change is a wave. Fourier's theorem shows how such travelling patterns can be understood as the sum of "elementary waves", each a regular pattern of repeating maxima or minima akin to a mathematical sine function. The distance between each maximum of such a regular elementary wave and the next maximum is called the wave's wavelength. Several kinds of wave phenomena play a role in astronomy. Electromagnetic radiation, our main source of information about astronomical objects, is a wave phenomenon, and in some observation techniques that wave nature plays an important role. Sound waves play a role for the interior structure of stars. Gravitational waves have emerged as a new source of information about astronomical objects.

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Term and definition status: This term and its definition have been approved by a research astronomer and a teacher

The OAE Multilingual Glossary is a project of the IAU Office of Astronomy for Education (OAE) in collaboration with the IAU Office of Astronomy Outreach (OAO). The terms and definitions were chosen, written and reviewed by a collective effort from the OAE, the OAE Centers and Nodes, the OAE National Astronomy Education Coordinators (NAECs) and other volunteers. You can find a full list of credits here. All glossary terms and their definitions are released under a Creative Commons CC BY-4.0 license and should be credited to "IAU OAE".