Physics Words: Decay (radioactive)

Simple Description

When the nucleus of an unstable atom emits either alpha, beta or gamma radiation.

Further Detail

Nuclear radiation comes from the nucleus of an unstable atom. During radioactive decay the nucleus can emit an alpha particle (2 protons and 2 neutrons), a beta particle (a high energy electron) or gamma radiation (an electromagnetic wave). If alpha or beta radiation is given out then a new atom is formed, whereas gamma is simply a form of energy (so the atom does not change).

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