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Homework Help: Electron Decay x-rays

  1. Apr 14, 2012 #1


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    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    This question actually comes from my chemistry class, but I believe it is more suited for this forum.

    When the process of Electron Capture occurs, proton + e --> n, an x-ray is emitted. Why is that x-ray emitted and not a photon of lower energy.

    2. Relevant equations

    No idea

    3. The attempt at a solution

    This is an extra credit question, and I don't even know where to start. Our book doesn't even have a nuclear chemistry chapter. From some online sleuthing I can see that energy is released as electrons collapse, from the inner-most orbital out, but I do not understand why it would be an x-ray instead of a lower energy photon.

    A point in the right direction would be appreciated. I might be able to understand some calculus if it's mathy, but I am not done with that class quite yet.

  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 14, 2012 #2
    in the process of electron capture the enregy released is very high. So a high energy photon is emitted. That is what x-ray is(a high energy photon).
  4. Apr 14, 2012 #3


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    Thank you. That's about the answer I submitted, but I was hoping I could show some of the calculations behind it.

    For now though, I'll digress. I probably wouldn't understand most of it anyway at this juncture.
  5. Apr 14, 2012 #4
    Ohk there are things i would like to say

    1) the equation you have written is incorrect
    p+e=n+nutrino is the right reaction.

    2)X-ray is a not a part of above reaction. X-rays are not emitted generally in a nuclear reaction. Gamma rays emmited in nuclear reactions.

    3)Yes X- rays are produced but after the K-capture. A vacancy is created in inner shell due to which an electron jumps from higher shell to the inner shell. The electron during jumping emits a photon to loose energy.

    4) A simple question for you. As you have said you are good in maths. Can you calculate the energy of the photon if electron jumps from nth shell .
  6. Apr 14, 2012 #5

    There is nothing like 'nuclear chemistry'. Every thing at nulear level is physics.
  7. Apr 14, 2012 #6


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    I think I'll pass for now, thanks. Maybe when I actually am good at maths. (if ever)


  8. Apr 14, 2012 #7
    This wasnt the kind of reaction i was expecting. I am not challenging you. I am just trying a healthy discussion. And please excuse my poor english. I might sound rude even when i am potile.
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