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Lepton decays

The heavier leptons, the muon and the tau, are not found in ordinary matter at all. This is because when they are produced they very quickly decay, or transform, into lighter leptons. Sometimes the tau lepton will decay into a quark, an antiquark, and a tau neutrino. Electrons and the three kinds of neutrinos are stable and thus the types we commonly see around us.

When a heavy lepton decays, one of the particles it decays into is always its corresponding neutrino. The other particles could be a quark and its antiquark, or another lepton and its antineutrino.

Physicists have observed that some types of lepton decays are possible and some are not. In order to explain this, they divided the leptons into three lepton families: the electron and its neutrino, the muon and its neutrino, and the tau and its neutrino. The number of members in each family must remain constant in a decay. (A particle and an antiparticle in the same family "cancel out" to make the total of them equal zero.)

Although leptons are solitary, they are always loyal to their families!