What is the decay equation for the beta decay of uranium 237?

1 Answer
Jan 4, 2015

The nuclear equation for the beta decay of Uranium-237 looks like this:

#""_92^237U -> ""_93^237Np + beta + bar nu#

#beta# represents an electron, also called a beta-particle, and #barnu# is an antineutrino. Let's verify that the equation is in accordance with the definition of a beta decay.

During a beta decay, a neutron from the nucleus of U-237 emits an electron, which is a negatively-charged particle. Since the neutron can be considered to be a combination of a beta-particle and a proton, the emission of an electron will leave behind one proton.

This will cause the atomic number to increase by 1, but leave the atomic mass unchanged. Indeed, the beta decay of U-237 leads to the formation of Neptunium-237, which has the same atomic mass, 237, but a different atomic number, 93.