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When you have your X-Ray tube, and want to make X-Ray for your X-Ray scanner or whatever. Then you get electrons from the cathode, which hit the anode, and from that produce a spectrum of X-Rays due to Bremsstrahlung, and characteristic lines from electrons jumping from shell to shell. This gives the continuous spectrum, and the sharp peaks from the characteristic lines.

My question is then: When you do an X-Ray, of a leg, or something, is it all the X-Rays that you use, both from bremsstrahlung and the characteristic lines, or do you somehow remove the continuous spectrum, or something, and only use the characteristic line X-Reay ?

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Both the continuous spectrum and the characteristic lines are used; however, in some cases a filter such as aluminum can be used to remove low energy xrays that are not needed, so as to reduce xray exposure, as explained here: http://www.cyberphysics.co.uk/topics/medical/Xray.html

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  • $\begingroup$ But isn't that a problem ? To get a nice contrast, you sometimes need not to high energies, and sometimes not to low. But if you get the whole spectrum, doesn't that interfere with the contrast ? Or maybe that is just a thing you have to account for ? $\endgroup$ Jun 5, 2014 at 21:52
  • $\begingroup$ the reference explains that for softer tissue like breasts low energy is important, so filtering out lower energies can not be used. $\endgroup$
    – DavePhD
    Jun 5, 2014 at 21:54

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