When an unstable nucleus emits a neutron, by how much does the charge of the nucleus change?
In this exercise, let’s say that the unstable nucleus we’re working with is this one right here. In this nucleus, the protons we’ve colored pink and the neutrons are colored green. We’re told this nucleus emits a neutron. And we’d like to know how much this changes the charge of the nucleus.
The important thing to realize here is that we’re emitting a neutron, an object which gets its name from the fact that it has no net electric charge. Neutrons, unlike protons and electrons, have an electric charge of zero.
So when we want to know how much this emission changes the charge of our nucleus, the answer to that is that it doesn’t affect the nuclear charge because the neutron takes no charge with it. Due to this emission then, the charge of the nucleus does not change.