Fig4_1 Radioactive alpha decay

Fig4_1 Radioactive alpha decay

Fig. 4.1 . An unstable, heavy nucleus of a radioactive element can disintegrate or decay into a stable, lighter nucleus, with the emission of an alpha particle that carries mass away from the heavy nucleus during its decay. The sub-atomic alpha particle consists of two protons and two neutrons. The nucleus of a helium atom is an alpha particle. Radioactive alpha decay of an individual heavy element like uranium does not occur very often, on average. You would have to wait 704 million years for half of a rock of uranium to change into lead by emitting alpha particles.

Copyright 2010, Professor Kenneth R. Lang, Tufts University