So nice place to ask question like this here.

I have read some basic physics magazine like Newton monthly.

There I saw article about nuclei generation in star. I want to know more and found wiki and read,


So there https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proton%E2%80%93proton_chain_reaction

says beta+-decay occurs.

But I am curious the reason of beta decay. Why that occur? It says because it is unstable. Then why it is unstable? What is stable status?

Thanks in advance.


This is the periodic table of elements, showing nuclei at the center of atoms:

periodic table

Each nucleus except of the hydrogen atom, contains a mixture of protons and neutrons held together by forces that can only be described using quantum mechanics. Stable nuclei are the ones where the forces binding protons and neutrons allow fixed energies and no probability of decay or tunneling,( even though the neutron by itself is unstable and decays into a proton and electron and an electron antineutrino if in free space). The forces are such that the number of neutrons and protons have to balance, between the repulsive electric forces of protons and the attractive strong force between the protons and neutrons.

There exists a stability line for the balancing of forces, and if too many neutrons or too many protons are there, the nuclei are unstable and will decay with a calculable probability.


Isotope half-lives. Note that the darker more stable isotope region departs from the line of protons (Z) = neutrons (N), as the element number Z becomes larger

Beta decays are particular decays connected with the mechanism of free neutron decays, and one can read up on them in the wiki article.

In nuclear physics, beta decay (β-decay) is a type of radioactive decay in which a proton is transformed into a neutron, or vice versa, inside an atomic nucleus. This process allows the atom to move closer to the optimal ratio of protons and neutrons. As a result of this transformation, the nucleus emits a detectable beta particle, which is an electron or positron

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for let me know. And interesting chart. So black dot is stable forever. So heavy atoms that have radioactivity like Uranium eventually decays. $\endgroup$ – creator Apr 12 '16 at 7:01
  • $\begingroup$ This is other question. At first why protons, neutrons generated like that? So protons consisted of quarks. and protons consisted by 2 up-quarks, 1 down-quark. (Book, wiki says) Then, why 3 quarks consisted? Why not 2 or 4 or more? And why quark has electric charge? Quark is smallest and fundamental unit? $\endgroup$ – creator Apr 12 '16 at 7:11
  • $\begingroup$ at the moment the quark is the smallest particle unit. And the groupings are defined mathematically, and they fit the data. That is all that physics can do: describe with mathematics what has been measured. The why is answered by: that is the best theory that fits the data. There are other, unstable combinations of quarks and antiquarks called meson resonances. $\endgroup$ – anna v Apr 12 '16 at 7:29

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