Nuclear Physics
Particle Physics

How is an atomic nucleus affected when a positron is produced?

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April 21, 2009 2:50AM

Quite simply, the affected atomic nucleus would undergo a

"change" from one element to another element. The question refers

to so-called beta+ decay, or positron emission, as lots of folks

call it. In the case of carbon-11, a proton in the nucleus changes

into a neutron, and, because the nucleus' atomic number goes down

by one because there is now one less proton in there, the atom

becomes boron-11. Your positron and a gamma ray (0.966 MeV) will be

"fleeing the scene" in the pair production event. Oh, and let's not

forget that since the nucleus has one less proton in it, one of the

electrons around that nucleus will no longer be "held" in place and

will wander off. There is a more detailed explanation in the answer

to this question: When an element undergoes positron decay what

happens as the new element forms? You can find a link to it

below.


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