The equation for gamma decay is Axy equals Axy plus the gamma symbol, where A is the parent particle's atomic symbol, x is the particle's total number of neutrons and protons, and y is the total number of protons. The gamma symbol indicates a emission of gamma energy.
Other forms of radioactive decay, like alpha and beta decay, result in the parent particle losing protons or neutrons. The loss of protons causes the original particle to convert from one element to another. This is because protons determine what element an individual atom is. After releasing a neutron or proton, a radioactive atom may have residual energy and release it as a specific amount of electromagnetic radiation to get back to an unexcited state. This energy takes the form of gamma rays, and is called gamma decay. Gamma decay does not change the element although it is associated with forms of decay that do.