Re: beta decay

Posted by Natalie L. Smith on Jun 05, 2002 at 05:51

Re: beta decay (Kevin)

The beta particle (electron) is ejected from the nucleus as the neutron changes to a proton. The charge on the resulting atom is +1, but only for the briefest fraction of a second. All atoms that aren't isolated in a vacuum are in proximity to other atoms with electrons and there will be a rapid exchange of electrons from atom to atom until the charge is shifted to the most stable situation. Bear in mind that the beta decay has also just produced an electron. Though it is ejected at high velocity, it will lose energy when it interacts with surrounding matter and will eventually become associated with some atom (most likely NOT the one it came from). Thus, you have also produced, somewhere, an atom with a -1 charge, too. The electrons continue to move until they are situated in the most stable arrangement.

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