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This might be a very simple question, so sorry.

I have encountered the expression "radiative particle decay" quite a few times now, and none of the sources ever explain what they mean by radiative: I imagine it is trivial, but I would like to know exactly what it is implied by that.

Does it just mean that it is a decay during which other particles are produced? I.e. other particles are radiated?

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The expression refers to the situation where the particle, such as an atom, containing charged constituants, is coupled to the (quantised) electromagnetic field. Then, if the atom is in an excited electronic state, it can decay to a lower state by emitting a photon (a quantum of the electromagnetic field). This process is known as radiative decay.

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  • $\begingroup$ For an example, the neutron usually decays by $n\to p+e+\bar\nu$, but can sometimes decay by $n\to p+e+\bar\nu+\gamma$. $\endgroup$ – rob Oct 3 '14 at 4:57

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