Light in the strict sense of the word is electromagnetic radiation the human eye can detect, with wave-lengths between 400 and 700 nanometres. In relativity theory and in astronomy, the word is often used in a more general sense, encompassing all kinds of electromagnetic radiation. For instance, astronomers might talk about “infrared light” or “gamma light”; in this context, light in the stricter sense is referred to as “visible light”.

Within classical physics, the properties of light are governed by Maxwell’s equations; in quantum physics, it turns out that light is a stream of energy packets called light quanta or photons.

In the context of relativistic physics, light is of great interest, and for a number of reasons. First of all, the speed of light plays a central role in both special and general relativity. Also, there are a number of interesting effects in general relativity which are associated with the propagation of light, namely deflection, the Shapiro effect and the gravitational redshift.