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Why does Beta Decay Happen?

Submitted by Chatman on Thu, 11/19/2009 - 21:47

Why does Beta Decay happen?


If you plot a graph of atomic number vs mass number you will find that for 'small' atoms, the graph is straight line i.e. p=n. As atoms get heavier there are relatively more neutrons than protons and the graph curves. You will find that the further an atom is from this line, the less stable it is likely to be. Beta emitters have too many neutrons and tend to lie above this line. They can reduce the number of neutrons by beta decay where a neutron is lost, leaving a proton and an electron (the beta particle which is emitted). In this way the atoms moves closer to the line of stability

Have a look at
http://resources.schoolscience.co.uk/PPARC/16plus/partich2pg1.html


But i thought beta decay turned a neutron into a proton


Isn't that what I said?????

'Beta emitters have too many neutrons and tend to lie above this line. They can reduce the number of neutrons by beta decay where a neutron is lost, leaving a proton and an electron'


Sorry i guess i just misunderstud what you said