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Gamma radiation

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Definition

noun, plural: gamma radiations

A form of electromagnetic radiation emitting gamma rays


Supplement

The electromagnetic radiation is the radiation released in the form of electromagnetic waves. The distance between successive crests is called the wavelength. The shorter the wavelength, the greater is the amount of energy. There are many forms of electromagnetic radiation. One of them is gamma radiation.

Gamma radiation is the emission of gamma rays that are very powerful and penetrating, high-energy rays. They have the shortest wavelength (less than a nanometer) among the other forms of electromagnetic radiation. They are emitted by a decaying nucleus, usually between 0.01 and 10 mev. They are also called nuclear x-rays. They are denoted by the Greek letter γ.

Gamma rays have energies greater than (roughly) 100 kev (that is, 100,000 electron volts). Gamma radiation as a consequence of radioactivity frequently accompanies alpha and beta decays, and always accompanies fission. Gamma rays are highly penetrating and are best shielded against using dense materials, such as lead or depleted uranium. Gamma rays are similar to x-rays, but are generally higher in energy and nuclear in origin. Gamma rays have wavelengths of 1 nanometre or shorter. These are highly energized, deeply penetrating photons which can be emitted from an atomic nucleus during nuclear fission (the splitting of an atom) and during regular atomic decay (radioactivity).

Gamma radiation can damage living tissues and is therefore used therapeutically by killing cancer cells at specific doses.


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