Nitrogen-17 is a beta emitter, what is the isotope produced in the radioactive decay?

1 Answer
Dec 15, 2015



In order to figure out what isotope is produced when nitrogen-17 undergoes beta decay, you first need to make sure that you understand what beta decay actually is.

As you know, when an isotope undergoes beta decay, one of its neutrons is converted into a proton, with an electron and an antineutrino being emitted in the process.

So, what would you expect to see happen to the atomic number of the isotope that undergoes beta decay?

Since the decay results in the creation of a proton, the atomic number of the resulting isotope will increase by #1#. This tells you that you're dealing with a different chemical element than the one that decayed.

What about the mass number?

As you know, the mass number tells you how many protons and neutrons a nucleus contains. In this case, the number of neutrons decreases by #1#, but the number of protons increases by #1#, so the mass number will remain constant.

So, a quick look in the periodic table will show that the element that Follows nitrogen is oxygen.

Therefore, the isotope produced by the beta decay of nitrogen-17 will be oxygen-17

#""_7^17"N" -> ""_8^17"O" + ""_text(-1)^0"e" + bar(nu)_e#