Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Conservation of angular momentum in nuclear physics

  1. Mar 18, 2014 #1
    Say a uranium-238 nucleus with angular momentum II decays to thorium-234 plus an alpha particle. Will the sum of the angular momenta of the thorium-234 nucleus and the alpha particle equal II? What if a photon was emitted during this process, would Ithorium+Iα+hbar=II?

  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 18, 2014 #2


    User Avatar
    2017 Award

    Staff: Mentor

    The relative motion of the nuclei can carry angular momentum, so the result can be different.
  4. Mar 19, 2014 #3
    To clarify mfb's point, orbital angular momentum must be included when applying angular momentum conservation. But yes, angular momentum is definitely always conserved.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook