An electron or positron ejected at high velocity from the nucleus of an atom undergoing beta decay.

A beta particle is a high energy electron, which is emitted from a process involving the weak nuclear force. This would be any nuclear interaction in which the electric charge of a particle is changed. The most common such process is when a neutron is changed into a proton, though there are more exotic reactions that could produce a beta particle. If the reaction makes a particle more positive, then an electron will be released; whereas, if the reaction causes a particle to become more negative then a positron will be released. Whenever an electron is released it is accompanied by an anti-neutrino (and positron by a neutrino) in order to obey lepton conservation. Beta particles are produced in radioactive decay (known as beta decay) and nuclear reactions (fission and fusion) that involve the weak force, such as the proton-proton chain. These mischievous little particles are also the ones responsible for the neat blue glow around some radioactive materials, known as cherenkov radiation.

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