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What occurs during alpha decay?

During alpha decay, a nucleus emits an alpha particle consisting of two protons and two neutrons.

Alpha decay is a type of radioactive decay in which a nucleus emits an alpha particle, which is essentially a helium nucleus consisting of two protons and two neutrons. This process reduces the atomic number of the nucleus by two and the mass number by four.

The alpha particle is emitted from the nucleus with a specific energy, which is determined by the difference in mass between the parent nucleus and the resulting daughter nucleus. This energy is shared between the alpha particle and the daughter nucleus, which recoils in the opposite direction to the alpha particle.

Alpha decay is a common process in heavy nuclei, such as uranium and thorium, which have too many protons and neutrons to be stable. By emitting alpha particles, these nuclei can become more stable and move towards the more stable region of the nuclear chart.

Alpha decay is also used in a variety of applications, such as in smoke detectors, where the alpha particles ionize air molecules and create a current that can be detected. It is also used in nuclear power plants to generate electricity, where the heat produced by alpha decay is used to generate steam and drive turbines.

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