[Physics] Why does the cloud chamber trails differ in length


Why does the cloud chamber trails differ in length?
Also, why does the cloud chamber trails branch into Y-shape?

Best Answer

A cloud chamber is a detector which can make visual the track of particles. It is based on the fact that supersaturated vapors will condense around charge centers, i.e. ions, and that charged particles going through the chamber will generate ions by multiple scattering. These make dots in the gas of the cloud chamber.


The track trace depends on the charge, on the energy, on the mass, and one can from the thickness and the length of the path deduce these parameters. Delta rays are electrons which get a larger transfer of momentum in the mutiple scattering than the electrons that outline the track. Alphas because they have double charge make thicker tracks. The particles loose energy and finally stop, at least for energies coming from nuclear decays. Cosmic muons go through with a minimum ionization which gives an limit on their energy.

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