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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?


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

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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.

  • $\begingroup$ I see. So gamma emissions occur only after alpha or beta decay? $\endgroup$ – Gummy bears Jun 13 '14 at 17:59
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ 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. $\endgroup$ – 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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