Video: Pinpointing the Type of Particle Constituting a Gamma Ray

What type of particle is a gamma ray the same as?

01:20

Video Transcript

What type of particle is a gamma ray the same as?

Okay, so thinking about gamma rays, we know that these are emitted in radioactive emission events. The symbol for a gamma ray is the Greek letter 𝛾. And sometimes, we’ll see these rays represented by a squiggly line that looks something like this. And this representation can remind us that a gamma ray is electromagnetic radiation. That is, in some respects, it behaves like a wave. But in this question, we’re asked specifically what type of particle a gamma ray is the same as. We can start off by realizing what type of particles a gamma ray is not. A gamma ray, as electromagnetic radiation, has no mass, and it also has no electric charge. That means a gamma ray can’t be any particle that has mass or charge. It can’t be a proton. It can’t be a neutron. It can’t be an electron and so on.

But then, what particle is there that’s both massless and chargeless? We can think back to the identity of a gamma ray as electromagnetic radiation. The name for a packet or a single section of electromagnetic radiation is photon. A photon is considered to be a particle, and yet it satisfies the condition of having no mass and no charge. Therefore, it’s a match for a gamma ray. And therefore, this is our answer. A photon is the particle that a gamma ray is the same as.

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