Conservation of angular momentum in nuclear physics

  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. mfb

    Staff: Mentor

    The relative motion of the nuclei can carry angular momentum, so the result can be different.
  4. To clarify mfb's point, orbital angular momentum must be included when applying angular momentum conservation. But yes, angular momentum is definitely always conserved.
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