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To help you learn and understand key science terms and concepts, we’ve identified some of the most important ones and provided detailed definitions for them, written and compiled by Chegg experts.
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Below are the symbols typically used for a beta minus decay. If we check the superscripts (atomic masses) and subscripts (atomic numbers), they are balanced in the reactants and products: (131 = 131) and (53 = 54 - 1).
An example is shown where the iodine (I) undergoes radioactive decay, producing xenon (Xe). Beta plus decay, or positron emission, occurs when a proton turns into a neutron, causing an electron neutrino and a positron (a particle that has the same mass but opposite charge as an electron - also called a positive electron) to be emitted.
Before we proceed to the different types of decay, let's review that the atomic mass is the superscript or the small number at the upper left side of the element symbol, indicating how many protons and neutrons are in the nucleus, and the atomic number is the subscript, or small number, at the lower left side of the element symbol, indicating how many protons are in the nucleus. These are: alpha decay, beta decay, and gamma emission. Alpha decay, or alpha emission, is the release or emission of an alpha particle, which is a helium nucleus consisting of two protons and two neutrons.
This type of decay usually occurs in larger and heavier atoms.
There are two types of beta decay, beta minus decay and beta plus decay.
When radioactive decay occurs, a particle or energy is emitted when the nucleus of the parent atom decays to the daughter nucleus.
Gamma rays are emitted because when the nucleus undergoes alpha or beta decay, the nucleus is all shaken up and needs to release energy.
Gamma rays have no atomic mass and no atomic number.
In science there are many key concepts and terms that are crucial for students to know and understand.
Often it can be hard to determine what the most important science concepts and terms are, and even once you’ve identified them you still need to understand what they mean.