Delta ray

Delta ray


A delta ray is sometimes used to describe any recoil particle caused by secondary ionization. The term was coined by J.J. Thomson. It is entirely unrelated to the family of subatomic particles named delta baryon.


A delta ray is characterized by very fast electrons produced in quantity by alpha particles or other fast energetic charged particles knocking orbiting electrons out of atoms. Collectively, these electrons are defined as delta radiation when they have sufficient energy to ionize further atoms through subsequent interactions on their own. Delta rays appear as branches in the main track of a cloud chamber. These branches will appear nearer the start of the track of a heavy charged particle, where more energy is imparted to the ionized electrons.

Delta rays in particle accelerators

Otherwise called a knock-on electron, the term "delta ray" is also used in high energy physics to describe single electrons in particle accelerators that are exhibiting characteristic deceleration. In a bubble chamber, electrons will lose their energy more quickly than other particles through Bremsstrahlung and will create a spiral track due to their small mass and the magnetic field. The Bremsstrahlung rate is proportional to the square of the acceleration of the electron.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • delta ray — n. high energy electrons ejected from atoms by primary ionizing particles passing through matter …   English World dictionary

  • delta ray — noun an electron ejected from matter by ionizing radiation • Hypernyms: ↑electron, ↑negatron * * * noun : an electron ejected by an ionizing particle (as an alpha particle) in its passage through matter * * * Physics. a low energy electron… …   Useful english dictionary

  • delta ray — Physics. a low energy electron emitted by a substance after bombardment by higher energy particles, as alpha particles. [1905 10] * * * ▪ physics       in physics, any atomic electron that has acquired sufficient energy by recoiling from a… …   Universalium

  • delta ray — del′ta ray n. phs a low energy electron emitted by a substance after bombardment by higher energy particles, as alpha particles • Etymology: 1905–10 …   From formal English to slang

  • delta ray — /ˈdɛltə reɪ/ (say deltuh ray) noun Physics slow electrons knocked out of atoms by fast moving ionised particles …  

  • delta ray — noun Date: 1908 an electron ejected by an ionizing particle in its passage through matter …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • delta ray — noun a) An electron ejected by recoil when a rapidly moving alpha particle or other charged particle passes through matter. b) A secondary ionizing particle ejected by recoil when a primary particle passes through matter …   Wiktionary

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