Which of the following forms of nuclear decays have electrical charge? I) Gamma rays. II) Alfa particles. III) Beta particles. A) II only. B) III only. C) I and II. D) I and III. Or E) II and III.
Nuclear decays are processes that involve a nucleus undergoing some kind of change. This might be the adding or taking away of energy, protons or neutrons changing from one into the other, or the loss or gain of protons and neutrons. Gamma rays can be produced when a nucleus that has excess energy decays forming a more stable nucleus and a gamma ray. A gamma ray is simply a very high-energy electromagnetic wave.
Gamma rays are an invisible form of light. Sometimes gamma decay follows another form of nuclear decay like alfa decay, where a nucleus decays into a smaller nucleus and an alfa particle. An alfa particle is composed of two protons and two neutrons. It’s sometimes expressed as a helium nucleus without any bound electrons. So, it has a charge of two plus.
Lastly, beta particles are produced during beta decay. In beta decay, a neutron inside the nucleus transforms into a proton releasing a high-energy electrons. So, the electron does not come from the bound electrons originally on the atom or ion. Strictly speaking, we should call this a beta minus particle because there is such a thing as a beta plus particle, or positron. A beta plus particle is produced in the complementary process where a proton transforms into a neutron. But in both cases, we’re producing charged particles.
The question’s asking us to identify which of these particles have electrical charge. We’ve identified that alfa particles and beta particles both have electrical charge. But gamma rays, which are examples of electromagnetic waves, are neutral. So, our final answer is E, II and III. So, of the forms of nuclear decay we’ve been given, the two that have electrical charge are alpha particles and beta particles.