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Why are beta particles less penetrating than x-rays?

  1. Nov 19, 2011 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    Why are beta particles less penetrating than x-rays?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 19, 2011 #2

    Delphi51

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    What will happen when betas approach the cloud of electrons around the atoms of a material?
     
  4. Nov 20, 2011 #3
    The β particle has a charge. It will be attracted to any molecules or atoms with an opposite charge, causing it to smash into them.

    The photons of the x-ray have no charge. They can move further through empty space without hitting anything.
     
  5. Nov 20, 2011 #4

    Delphi51

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    Approaching electrons only see the outer charges of molecules and atoms. If you consider the sign of the charges involved, you will see that there is no attraction. If they are going fast enough there will be some crashing, though.

    The lack of charge does enable the x-rays to make it through materials, too. It would be worth looking up the range of photon energies that atoms and molecules can absorb.
     
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