What does gamma decay release?

1 Answer
Jun 27, 2016

Gamma rays (photons).


When a nucleus of an atom has too much energy, it can emit this energy in the form of a photon (electromagnetic radiation).

This photon, or gamma ray (#gamma#), has no mass and no charge, it is a wave such as a light wave but with a much shorter wavelength: < 0.01 nm (visible light is in the range of ~400-700 nm).

When a nucleus emits a photon, the number of protons and neutrons in the nucleus remains the same. This is why it is called isomeric transition.

The general form of the equation for this decay is:

#""_Z^(Am)X -> ""_Z^AX + ""_0^0gamma#

in which #A# is the mass number of a certain nuclide #X# and #Z# the atomic number (number of protons). The #m# indicates that it is an isomere c.q. metastable state of nucllide #X#.