Q:

What causes radioactivity?

A:

Radioactivity happens when atomic nuclei become unstable and lose the ability to properly hold the two nucleuses together. This event takes place when there is an excess amount of either protons or neutrons within nuclei, which deprive them of the energy they need to prevent abnormal activity.

Radioactivity is caused in the same way but appears in three different types: alpha, beta and gamma. In alpha decay, alpha particles are identical to helium nuclei, which are made of two protons and two neutrons bond together. Initially, the alpha particle escapes the nucleus of a parent atom and is further repelled from its sources by various processes of quantum mechanics. These processes change the original atom from an alpha particle into a different element, which lowers its mass and atomic numbers. Beta radioactivity occurs in two types. During the first type of decay, emissions occur from the transformation of one of a nucleus' neutrons into a proton, an electron and an antineutrino. The second type of beta decay is similar in process but involves the transformation of a proton into a neutron, neutrino and positron. Gamma decay takes place after a nucleus undergoes alpha or beta decay and results in the hyperstimulation of a nucleus. Gamma radiation is the most intense form of radioactivity and has strong penetrating capacities.

Sources:

  1. physics.org

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