What is radioactive decay?

  • (noun): The spontaneous disintegration of a radioactive substance along with the emission of ionizing radiation.
    Synonyms: decay, disintegration

Radioactive Decay

Radioactive decay is the process by which an atomic nucleus of an unstable atom loses energy by emitting ionizing particles (ionizing radiation). There are many different types of radioactive decay (see table below). A decay, or loss of energy, results when an atom with one type of nucleus, called the parent radionuclide, transforms to an atom with a nucleus in a different state, or to a different nucleus containing different numbers of protons and neutrons. Either of these products is named the daughter nuclide. In some decays the parent and daughter are different chemical elements, and thus the decay process results in nuclear transmutation (creation of an atom of a new element).

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Some articles on radioactive decay:

Radioactive Source - Occurrence and Applications
... (including deuterium) survive to today, but any radioactive isotopes of the light elements produced in the Big Bang (such as tritium) have long since decayed ... Thus, all radioactive nuclei are, therefore, relatively young with respect to the birth of the universe, having formed later in various other types of ... For example, carbon-14, a radioactive nuclide with a half-life of only 5730 years, is constantly produced in Earth's upper atmosphere due to interactions ...
Radioactive Decay - Changing Decay Rates
... The radioactive decay modes of electron capture and internal conversion are known to be slightly sensitive to chemical and environmental effects. 187Re normally beta decays to 187Os with a half-life of 41.6 × 109 y, but studies using fully ionised 187Re atoms (bare nuclei) have found that this can decrease to only 33 y ... This is attributed to "bound-state β- decay" of the fully ionised atom – the electron is emitted into the "K-shell" (1s atomic orbital), which cannot ...
Radioactive Source
... Radioactive decay, also known as nuclear decay or radioactivity, is the process by which a nucleus of an unstable atom loses energy by emitting ... alpha particles, beta particles, and gamma rays — is considered radioactive ... There are many different types of radioactive decay (see table below) ...
Emc2 - History - Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy
... noted after the discovery of radioactivity in 1897, that the total energy due to radioactive processes is about one million times greater than that ... Einstein's equation is in no way an explanation of the large energies released in radioactive decay (this comes from the powerful nuclear forces ... In any case, the enormous energy released from radioactive decay (which had been measured by Rutherford) was much more easily measured than the (still small) change in the ...
Spontaneous Fission
... Spontaneous fission (SF) is a form of radioactive decay that is found only in very heavy chemical elements ... rarely, but in the vast majority of the radioactive decay of these atoms, alpha decay or beta decay occurs instead ... However, like other forms of radioactive decay, it occurs due to quantum tunneling, without the atom having been struck by a neutron or other particle as in induced nuclear fission ...

Famous quotes containing the word decay:

    The goal of every culture is to decay through over-civilization; the factors of decadence,—luxury, scepticism, weariness and superstition,—are constant. The civilization of one epoch becomes the manure of the next.
    Cyril Connolly (1903–1974)