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One of the types of radioactive emissions is gamma emission. I understand how the other two types, alpha and beta, help to make the atom more stable. How exactly does gamma emission help to make the atom more stable?

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marked as duplicate by DavePhD, Colin McFaul, Brandon Enright, John Rennie, JamalS Jun 14 '14 at 17:02

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

possible duplicate of Why is there an emission of gamma rays? – DavePhD Jun 13 '14 at 18:21
also – DavePhD Jun 13 '14 at 18:38
up vote 1 down vote accepted

When a nucleus makes an alpha or beta decay, usually it's left in an excited state. It can make the transition to lower energy state by emitting gamma rays, so in a sense, the atom is more "stable" because the nucleus is in a lower energy state.

I am not sure if this answer your question. Hope it helps.

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I see. So gamma emissions occur only after alpha or beta decay? – Gummy bears Jun 13 '14 at 17:59
no, the nucleus could be in an excited state for other reasons, such as having formed by nuclear fusion, or having absorbed a gamma ray previously. – DavePhD Jun 13 '14 at 18:03

The nucleus has quantized energy levels. The emission of gamma rays is a transition from a higher energy level to a lower energy level.

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