Ionising Radiation
Quantum and Nuclear

Where does gamma radiation come from?

Teaching Guidance for 14-16 Supporting Physics Teaching

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.

Ionising Radiation
is used in analyses relating to Radioactive dating
can be analysed using the quantity Half-Life Decay Constant Activity
features in Medical Physics

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