Alpha, Beta and Gamma Energies

In summary, gamma photons have the most energy among the three types of radiation, with energies generally greater than 100 keV. However, alpha particles have the highest ionizing power due to their mass and kinetic energy of around 5 MeV. Beta particles have less ionizing power and typically have energies around 1 MeV. It is difficult to compare the energies of these radiations as their ranges can overlap, but in general, alpha particles have a higher energy than beta particles and gamma rays.
  • #1
AN630078
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Homework Statement
I have a question which is probably very straightforward but I am a little uncertain.

List from largest to smallest in terms of energy an alpha particle, a beta particle and a photon of gamma radiation.
Relevant Equations
alpha, beta, gamma
Well, gamma photons are pure energy, so surely a gamma photon would have the most energy since gamma-ray photons generally have energies greater than 100 keV. An alpha particle has the highest ionising power of the three on account of its mass, it roughly has a kinetic energy of 5 MeV, whereas beta particles are smaller and have a lesser ionising power i.e less energy.

So would the correct order be gamma, alpha, beta?
 
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  • #2
For the two massive particles you have only considered KE, which would rather depend on the source. An interstellar alpha particle could have enormous speed.
Perhaps you are supposed to consider just their rest energies?
 
  • #3
It is hard to compare the energy between those rays in general as each radiation's range of energy can overlap each others. Yet, each type of radiation appears more frequently in nature in specific ranges of energy - "typical" energy - and comparing between those values can give us some insights:
For gamma rays: typically 100 keV ~ 1 MeV
For beta ray: typically around 1MeV
For alpha decay: typically around 5 MeV
So, if we were to measure a random set of gamma, beta and alpha rays, there is a high chance that E_alpha > E_beta > E_gamma
 

Related to Alpha, Beta and Gamma Energies

1. What are Alpha, Beta, and Gamma energies?

Alpha, Beta, and Gamma energies are types of ionizing radiation that are emitted by unstable atoms. These energies are used in various scientific and medical applications, including cancer treatment and nuclear power.

2. How do Alpha, Beta, and Gamma energies differ from each other?

Alpha particles are positively charged and have a high mass, while Beta particles are negatively charged and have a lower mass. Gamma rays are electromagnetic waves with no mass or charge. Additionally, each type of energy has a different level of penetration, with Alpha particles being the least penetrating and Gamma rays being the most penetrating.

3. What are the sources of Alpha, Beta, and Gamma energies?

Alpha particles are typically emitted by heavy, unstable elements such as uranium and radium. Beta particles are often produced by nuclear reactions or radioactive decay of elements such as carbon-14. Gamma rays can be emitted from the nucleus of an atom during radioactive decay or from nuclear reactions.

4. How are Alpha, Beta, and Gamma energies used in medicine?

Alpha particles and Beta particles are used in radiation therapy to treat cancer. These energies are directed at cancer cells to destroy them and prevent them from growing. Gamma rays are also used in cancer treatment, as well as in diagnostic imaging techniques such as PET scans.

5. What safety precautions should be taken when working with Alpha, Beta, and Gamma energies?

Alpha, Beta, and Gamma energies are all potentially harmful to living organisms and should be handled with caution. Proper shielding and protective equipment should be used when working with these energies. It is also important to follow safety protocols and limit exposure to these energies as much as possible.

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