Radioactivity is a very interesting phenomenon in nature. Classical Electromagnetism cannot explain radioactivity. It’s a spontaneous and random phenomenon whereby nuclei of certainchemical elements like Uranium, radiate gamma rays (high frequency electromagnetic radiation), beta particles (electrons or positrons) and alpha particles (Helium Nuclei).
By the emission of these particles and radiation, the unstable nucleus gets converted into a stabler nucleus. This is called radioactive decay. In the list of radioactive elements, all the elements which undergo decay are listed. Find more information on radioactivity through the articles, ‘What is radioactivity?’ and meaning of radioactivity decay.
Types of Radioactive Decay
This decay may occur in any of the following three ways:
- Alpha Decay: Nucleus emits a helium nuclei (called an Alpha Particle) and gets converted to another nucleus with atomic number lesser by 2 and atomic weight lesser by 4.
- Beta Decay: Beta decay could be of two types. Either through emission of an electron or positron (the antiparticle of electron). Electron emission causes an increase in the atomic number by 1, while positron emission causes a decrease in the atomic number by 1.
- Gamma Decay: Gamma decay just changes the energy level of the nucleus.