Why do gamma rays accompany other kinds of decay?

  • #1
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0

Main Question or Discussion Point

I read that gamma rays are usually emitted by the nucleus of an atom after it emits an alpha particle, but have been wondering: If the alpha particle being emitted was meant to stabilize the atom, and should have, why does the nucleus need to emit such high energy waves?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
mathman
Science Advisor
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Unless the masses of the daughter particles (alpha + whatever) add up exactly to that of the parent, for conservation the difference will generally end up in the form of energy, usually a gamma ray.
 
  • #3
137
0
Unless the masses of the daughter particles (alpha + whatever) add up exactly to that of the parent, for conservation the difference will generally end up in the form of energy, usually a gamma ray.
why is this?
 
  • #4
984
174
The left-behind nucleus could be in an excited state. It may then emit gamma rays as it decays to its ground state.
 

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