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A double alpha disintegration?

  1. Feb 3, 2016 #1
    Hi everybody; I was watching footage from a cloud chamber and I stumbled upon a double alpha disintegration; both particles came from the same spot and their trajectory was shaped as a V; the only radioactive element which was in the air was the natural radon; after consulting the disintegration chain, I think that the only phenomenon which can explain that is a disintegration tfrom radon to polonium and an immediate disintegration of that polonium to lead.

    Is there other way to explain this phenomenon?

    Thanks for reading.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 3, 2016 #2

    mfb

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    214Po has a half-life of only 160 microseconds and various other isotopes have similarly short half-lifes, so two decays within a millisecond are not uncommon.
    Random chance - two independent decays at roughly the same place and time.
     
  4. Feb 3, 2016 #3
    Well I gess that's true, but I was wondering if it is possible for a single Rn atom to expell two alpha particles and not to have two steps of the disintegration chain separated little time.
     
  5. Feb 3, 2016 #4

    mfb

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    The intermediate nucleus can be so short-living that the question "did it really exist?" becomes tricky. I don't think that happens for alpha decays, however.

    There is double proton emission and of course double beta decay, the latter clearly without a proper intermediate nucleus.
     
  6. Feb 4, 2016 #5
    I see.
    Thank you very much for anwsering me.
     
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