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Question about Positron decay

 
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Dew Dust




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PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2006 4:30 pm    Post subject: Question about Positron decay Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Right now in chemistry, we are teaching about Nuclear Chemistry and my department got stuck on an interesting question regarding positron decay. I figured it ask it here to see if anyone here could help out and know something pertaining to it. Basically, a positron decay involves a proton with enough energy would decay/emit off a positron (beta plus), a neutron and a neutrino. My department would like to know how this happens though. It is easy to explain Beta decay/emission which is when a neutron splits into a proton and an electron. The proton stays within the nucleus causing the atomic number/charge to increase by one while an electron shoots out (the beta particle). But how does a proton give off a postive beta (positron--or in other words--a positively charged electron). We have no clue. And so I am hoping that maybe someone here could shed some piece of light on this. Thanks.
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Sage

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2006 4:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

You're talking p --> n + (e+) + v?

First of all, from what I understand, that's impossible due to energy conservation. The neutron and positron together have more mass than the proton. The proton cannot decay into particles with more total mass (energy) than it has. It has no momentum in its rest frame and the products automatically have more energy than it, not including any potential momentum. If it were interacting with something having momentum, then this could happen I suppose. It depends on other conservation laws.

My particle physics professor has continually told us that the proton is thought not to decay at all, or if it were able to, its lifetime would be longer than the age of the universe. Even though we are only going over the Standard Model, I believe she has meant this as a fact, not just a limitation of the Standard Model.
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Dew Dust




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PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2006 5:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Interesting Sage!

Quote:
First of all, from what I understand, that's impossible due to energy conservation. The neutron and positron together have more mass than the proton. The proton cannot decay into particles with more total mass (energy) than it has. It has no momentum in its rest frame and the products automatically have more energy than it, not including any potential momentum. If it were interacting with something having momentum, then this could happen I suppose. It depends on other conservation laws.


That is what also baffles us. Neutrons do have more mass and we couldn't understand how the overall reaction would occur and gain mass. It just wasn't making sense. I will mention what you said. Thanks!
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