Nuclear Radiation Definition

Nuclear radiation may refer to light, heat, or energetic particles emitted by nuclear decay, fission, or fusion.
Nuclear radiation may refer to light, heat, or energetic particles emitted by nuclear decay, fission, or fusion. Ian Cuming / Getty Images

Nuclear radiation refers to the particles and photons emitted during reactions that involve the nucleus of an atom. Nuclear radiation is also known as ionizing radiation or ionising radiation (depending on the country). The particles emitted by nuclear reactions are sufficiently energetic that they can remove electrons from atoms and molecules and ionize them.

Nuclear radiation includes gamma rays, x-rays, and the more energetic portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. Ionizing subatomic particles released by nuclear reactions include alpha particles, beta particles, neutrons, muons, mesons, positrons, and cosmic rays.

Nuclear Radiation Example

During the fission of U-235 the nuclear radiation that is released contains neutrons and gamma ray photons.

Sources

  • Woodside, Gayle (1997). Environmental, Safety, and Health Engineering. US: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0471109327.