Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Alpha beta and Gamma

  1. May 4, 2004 #1
    i get what alpha is
    but i do not really get what betta and gamma is

    can someone please explain to me ?

  2. jcsd
  3. May 4, 2004 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    They're just greek letters. Their meaning as symbols for physical quantities (even by convention) depends greatly upon context. Are you talking about special relativity? Quantum mechanics?

    - Warren
  4. May 4, 2004 #3
    That grouping suggests you are discussing radiation. Alphas are He-4 nuclei, betas are electrons or positrons, and gammas are photons (electromagnetic).
  5. May 5, 2004 #4


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    More specifically, they are electrons or positrons that came from neutrons. In a nuclear reaction, a neutron can be broken into a proton and an electron, that electron is called a beta particle.
  6. May 5, 2004 #5
    alpha is the particle from an unstable nucleus

    he-4 yes it is

    beta is an electron but where does it come from? is it from the nucleus ?

    gamma is a ray which is has no mass and just like light

    this is all i know about beta and gamma

    can somone add something to my statement ?
  7. May 5, 2004 #6


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Beta radiation is (basically) formed by either of the reactions oir simlair reacions

    [tex]n \rightarrow p^+ + e^- + \bar{\nu}_e[/tex]

    [tex]p^+ \rightarrow n + e^+ + \nu_e[/tex]

    In most cases the neutron and the proton (all in the protons case) will be assocaited will be part of a nucleus so in effect the beta particle will come from the nucleus.

    Gamma rays are simply photons that are produced by nuclear reactions (for example sometimes after beta decay the daughter nucleus is left in an excited state and will emit a gamma photon) or anihilation (for example):

    [tex]e^+ e^- \rightarrow \gamma\gamma[/tex]
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook