Alpha, Beta, and Gamma Decay
Definitions and Examples
Radioactivity Results from the Decay of an Unstable Nucleus
The first form of radiation: Alpha
During alpha decay, the nucleus gives away two protons and two electrons, so when used to perform an equation involving alpha decay, you will use the symbol as shown below.
The second form of radiation: Beta
During beta decay, a proton is converted into a neutron or vice versa. When using beta decay you will be seeing this symbol shown below.
The final form of radiation: Gamma
Due to our modern understanding of gamma decay, we will later need to discuss two different types of beta decay in order to wrap our minds around it. But for now, in equations, gamma decay does not effect the particle at all; so the particle will remain the same. When using gamma in an equation you will see the symbol that's below.