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Radon 222 What is really going on?

  1. Dec 14, 2015 #1
    Are the Alpha particles in the Rn 222 decay process actually new particles or something like Helium atoms with the electrons knocked off.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 14, 2015 #2


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    It's not just 222Rn that decays via alpha emission! Every isotope marked in yellow in this nuclear chart (which is like an expanded periodic table, number of protons on the y axis, neutrons on the x) http://www.nndc.bnl.gov/chart/reColor.jsp?newColor=dm decays via alpha emission.

    Now, we call the particles emitted by a nucleus (222Rn-> 218Po + ##\alpha##) alpha particles, but you are correct, they have the same thing as a helium nucleus. It's the same thing with "beta" decay - beta particles are electrons. Similarly "Beta plus" decay is positron emission. It's just a historical thing.
  4. Dec 14, 2015 #3
    Great thanks, I get that other elements emit Alpha decay but are they creating new particles or changing existing particles. Where does the Alpha particle come from.
  5. Dec 14, 2015 #4


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    The decay of the 222Rn nucleus. The decay goes like: 22286Rn-> 21884Po + α . The radon will turn into 218Po, which is two neutrons + two protons less than 222Rn
  6. Dec 14, 2015 #5


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    The protons and neutrons of the alpha particle come from the radon nucleus. No new particles, just the same in a different arrangement.

    Beta decay is different, there new particles are created.
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