Particles Associated with Nuclear Reactions

There are a number of particles associated with nculear reactions.

alpha particles - α

alpha particles are identical to the nucleus of a helium atom (2 protons and 2 neutrons) and can also be shown as 42He (where the 4 is the mass number and the 2 is the atomic number, see the section on symbols if you aren't sure how that works.)

beta particles - β

beta particles are electrons that are emitted fom the nucleus of an atom. Of course this is bizarre given that there are no electons in the nucleus. Emission of a beta particle involves the transformation of a neutron into a proton and an electron. The proton stays in the nucleus and the electron is emitted.

Beta particles can be written 0-1e (Here the -1 indicates that the charge is equivalent to the opposite of a proton charge -- not that there are -1 protons)

gamma particles - γ

gamma particles are high energy photons - pure energy.

neutrons - 10n

neutrons are the neutral particles found in the nucleus

positron - 01e+

positrons are identical to electrons except that they are postively charged instead of negative. These are the anti-matter version of electrons. The subscripted 1 here does NOT means that this contains a proton - only that the charge is equivalent to that of a proton

electron capture - E.C.

electron capture is the name applied when an electron is "captured" by its nucleus. This process involves the conversion of a proton (and the captured electron) into a neutron.

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