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Radioactivity is an act of emitting radiation spontaneously. It is an unstable atomic nucleus to achieve a stable configuration by giving up some of its energy. During radioactivity, three primary types of radiation are emitted by radioactive particles including alpha, beta, and gamma.
The three major radiation types emitted by radioactive particles include
These radiations are released from the atom’s nucleus and are emitted by the atom because of an unstable atom trying to gain stability.
And even their behaviors differ from one another. So, let us take a closer look at each type.
Alpha particles are the largest particles with the least penetrative power. It carries a positive charge and comprises two protons and two neutrons bound together. An alpha particle later got recognized as helium 4 nucleus.
These particles have the greatest mass among the other types of radioactive emissions. An alpha particle’s mass is around 8000 times more than the beta particle’s mass. This large size of an alpha particle reduces its penetrative power.
Properties of alpha particles
Beta particles are high-energy positrons or electrons carrying a negative charge. These are considerably smaller in size and have higher penetrative power.
Properties of Beta particles
Gamma rays are not particles with a mass. These are a kind of electromagnetic radiation which are considerably higher in energy as compared to X-rays. Being a form of energy, gamma rays have no mass and size. But these are far more harmful to humans as compared to the X-rays. However, the charge of gamma rays is neutral.
Properties of Gamma particles
|Basis for comparison||Alpha||Beta||Gamma|
|Charge||It is positively charged||It is positively or negatively charged||It has no charge|
|Basic||It is similar to helium nucleus because of protons presence||It is a positron or an electron||It’s a photon that carries electromagnetic energy.|
|Propagating speed||It is very less than the velocity of light||It is a little less than the velocity of light||It is equal to the velocity of light|
|Size||It’s quite large||It is comparatively small||It is extremely minute because it is massless.|
|Mass||6.65*10-27 Kg||9.10*10-31 Kg||0|
|Application||In an unsealed source radiotherapy||In monitoring material thickness||In nuclear industry|
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