Beta Decay not a specific problem, just a question

In summary: Why does the mass of electron cancel out for beta minus decay?In summary, the conversation discusses the differences in calculating kinetic energy for beta plus and beta minus decay. While the mass of the electron is taken into account for beta plus decay, it is not considered for beta minus decay as it cancels out in the calculation process. The speaker is seeking clarification on how this happens.
  • #1
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I understand that a beta plus decay emits positron and beta minus decay emits electron. For the calculation of kinetic energy of the particle released, you take into account the mass of electron for beta plus, but why is it that you DON'T take into account the mass of electron for beta minus? I kind of heard that the mass of electron cancels out for beta minus decay. I do not see how that happens. If you could show me how the mass of electron "cancels out" when calculating the kinetic energy released for beta minus decay, I would feel extremely grateful. Thank you for taking your time to read my question.
 
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  • #2
erinec said:
I understand that a beta plus decay emits positron and beta minus decay emits electron. For the calculation of kinetic energy of the particle released, you take into account the mass of electron for beta plus, but why is it that you DON'T take into account the mass of electron for beta minus? I kind of heard that the mass of electron cancels out for beta minus decay. I do not see how that happens. If you could show me how the mass of electron "cancels out" when calculating the kinetic energy released for beta minus decay, I would feel extremely grateful. Thank you for taking your time to read my question.
Who doesn't take into account the mass of the electron?
 
  • #3


Hello,

Thank you for your question about beta decay. You are correct in understanding that beta plus decay emits a positron and beta minus decay emits an electron. The calculation of kinetic energy released in beta decay involves the difference in mass between the parent nucleus and the daughter nucleus. This is known as the mass defect. In beta plus decay, the mass defect is equal to the mass of the electron, which is why we take it into account when calculating the kinetic energy released. However, in beta minus decay, the mass defect is not equal to the mass of the electron. Instead, it is equal to the mass of the electron plus the mass of the antineutrino. The mass of the antineutrino is very small compared to the mass of the electron, so it is often neglected in calculations. This is why we do not take the mass of the electron into account when calculating the kinetic energy released in beta minus decay. It does not cancel out, but rather is a very small contribution to the overall mass defect. I hope this helps clarify your understanding. Thank you for your interest in this topic. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to ask.
 

What is beta decay?

Beta decay is a type of radioactive decay in which a nucleus releases a beta particle (an electron or a positron) and transforms into a different element.

What causes beta decay?

Beta decay is caused by an imbalance in the number of protons and neutrons in a nucleus. This can happen due to the strong nuclear force becoming weaker over time, or due to the presence of excess neutrons in the nucleus.

What are the different types of beta decay?

There are three types of beta decay: beta minus decay, in which a neutron in the nucleus transforms into a proton and releases an electron; beta plus decay, in which a proton in the nucleus transforms into a neutron and releases a positron; and electron capture, in which an electron from the atom's inner shell is absorbed by the nucleus, causing a proton to turn into a neutron.

What are the effects of beta decay on an atom?

Beta decay can result in the formation of a new element with a different number of protons, thus changing the atomic number and chemical properties of the atom. It can also release energy in the form of gamma rays, which can be harmful to living organisms.

How is beta decay used in scientific research and technology?

Beta decay is used in a variety of applications, including nuclear power generation, radiocarbon dating, and medical imaging. It is also studied in particle physics to gain a better understanding of the structure and behavior of atoms and subatomic particles.

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