What is Radiation?

Radiation can be described as energy or particles from a source that travels through space or other mediums. Light, heat, microwaves and wireless communications are all forms of radiation. This includes the following:

  • Particle Radiation: such as alpha radiation (α), beta radiation (β), and neutron radiation.
  • Gravitational Radiation: such as radiation that takes the form of gravitational waves, or ripples in the curvature of space-time.
  • Acoustic Radiation: such as ultrasound, sound, and seismic waves.
  • Electromagnetic radiation: such as radio waves, visible light, x-rays, and gamma radiation (γ).


Types of Radiation

Radiation is often categorized into two types depending on the energy of the radiated particles.

  • Ionizing Radiation – Ionizing radiation carries more than 10 eV, which is enough to ionize atoms and molecules and break chemical bonds.
  • Non-ionizing Radiation – The non-ionizing radiation consists of alpha particles, beta particles, and gamma particles, whereas ionizing radiation consists of microwave radiation, infrared radiation and radio waves.

What is Nuclear Radiation?

Nuclear radiation is an energy that is released by elementary particles of the atomic nucleus that caused by the process of nuclear decay. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear radiation can cause consequences to nature, human life and facility significantly. However, nuclear radiation could be both beneficial or harmful depending upon its utilization.

Types of Nuclear Radiation

There are three types of nuclear radiation emitted from radioactive atoms:

  • Alpha Radiation
  • Beta Radiation
  • Gamma Radiation

Alpha Radiation:

Alpha radiation is a heavy and very short-range particle. It is actually an ejected helium nucleus. Alpha radiation is another name for the alpha particles emitted in the type of radioactive decay called alpha decay. Alpha particles are helium-4 (4He) nuclei.

Beta Radiation:

They are classified into two categories: Beta-minus (β−) and Beta-plus (β+).

The Beta-minus radiation consists of an energetic electron. It is more penetrating than alpha radiation but less than gamma. While, the Beta-plus radiation is the emission of positrons, which are the antimatter form of electrons.

Gamma Radiation:

The Gamma rays or Gamma radiation consists of photons with a wavelength less than
3×10−11meters. The emission is a nuclear process that occurs to rid an unstable nucleus of excess energy after most nuclear reactions.

X-Ray Radiation:

It is a form of electromagnetic radiation. The x-rays are powerful waves of electromagnetic energy. Most X-rays have a wavelength ranging from 0.01 to 10 nanometers, corresponding to frequencies in the range 30 petahertz to 30 exahertz and energies in the range 100 eV to 100 keV.


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