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Q & A: Where does the electron go in beta decay?

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Most recent answer: 02/12/2016
Q:
in beta decay , a neutron converts its self into a proton , an electron and an anti neutrino . the newly created electron gets emitted as beta particle. the atomic mass ( proton no + neutron no) remains same but proton no increases by 1 , to form a neutral daughter atom how does it neutralizes the newly created extra proton, where does the electron come from to form a stable neutral atom ? for example:c ( atomic no 6 atomic mass 14) = N ( atomic no 7 atomic mass 14) + 1 beta particle (electron) in this example how does nitrogen gets another electron to neutralize its atomic no ( no of proton = no of electron) it gets 1 more proton from beta decay and its proton no becomes 7 from 6 so from where does it gets 1 more electron to form a neutral daughter atom?
- alicia avram (age 16)
islamabad pakistan
A:

Hi Alicia,

As you point out, the world is pretty much neutral.   The extra electron in beta decay wanders around the surrounding material, losing energy as it bumps into other atoms.   Eventually it will become thermalized and just hang around.  Actually, in most materials at room temperature there are always some ionized atoms and free electrons.  This is due to thermal energy fluctuations.    Eventually the now ionized atom will find one of these wandering electrons and recombine with it.

LeeH

 


(published on 02/12/2016)

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