Where does gamma radiation come from?
Teaching Guidance for 14-16
Making the wrong connections in thinking about the production of gamma radiation
Wrong Track: Gamma radiation is a form of electromagnetic radiation. It must be produced in the same way as radiation such as ultraviolet which is given out when electrons outside the nucleus fall from a higher to a lower energy level.
Right Lines: Gamma radiation originates in the nucleus of atoms and is often produced alongside alpha and beta radiation. When a nucleus emits an alpha or beta particle, the daughter nucleus is usually left in an excited state. It can then move to a lower energy state by emitting a gamma ray. This is similar to the way in which an atomic electron (outside the nucleus) jumps to a lower energy state by emitting infrared, visible or ultraviolet light.