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Nuclei undergo radioactive decay in order to release some of the "stress" in the atom. At a certain point, the nucleus of an atom gets too large to sustain all of those protons and neutrons. When the "stress" is relieved, a phenomenon called radioactive decay occurs.

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Q: Why do some isotopes of elements spontaneously undergo radioactive decay?
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List of radioactive elements?

Elements that decay (give off protons and neutrons) to form other elements. *It's not elements as such that are stable or unstable, but rather isotopes. Even elements of small atomic number have unstable isotopes that undergo radioactive decay, for example carbon-14. Elements with higher atomic numbers than Lead (82) are naturally radioactive in all isotopes. Bismuth (83) has an extremely long half-life, but the time generally becomes shorter (the decay more rapid) as the size of the nucleus gets progressively larger for heavier radioactive elements.


All substances that naturally undergo radioactive decay do so until they finally become a stable isotope of one particular element what is the element?

The decay of radioactive substances follows a decay chain that will sooner or later result in the appearance of a stable isotope of lead. There is an exception for the atoms of a few substances that have undergone decay by spontaneous fission.


Is radioactive decay the same as organic decay?

No, radioactive decay is not the same as organic decay. The basic difference between radioactive decay and organic decay is that in organic decay, chemical compounds break down and the biochemical structure of the subject changes. This is a natural process that any biological structures will undergo, or it could be induced. In either case, it represents a chemical change. In radioactive decay, the actual atomic nuclei of atoms will break down in some way, depending on the substance being considered. It is the unstable atomic nucleus of given isotopes of elements that undergoes the change, and this is a nuclear or atomic change.


What is a glowing example of a radioactive element?

Most radioactive elements when kept in dark will glow to some extent. Radium could be thought of the highest glowing radioactive element out of all. Radioactive elements undergo spontaneous emission of either alpha, beta particles or gamma rays


Why do certain elements undergo more beta decay than others since beta decay is caused by the weak interaction not an atoms stability?

It should be understand that beta decay - or any other radioactive phenomena - are not specific to certain elements, but to certain isotopes. For the chemist, there might not be much difference between (for example) carbon-12 and carbon-14; for the nuclear physicist, they are two completely different things. (As a reminder, both of these have 6 protons; the number of neutrons varies.)Radioactivity - an atom's instability - is related to the structure of the nucleus, not to the outer electron layers (which affect chemical reactions).

Related questions

What is a stable isotope?

Stable isotopes are chemical isotopes that are not radioactive, meaning that they do not spontaneously undergo radioactive decay.


Is radioactive isotope a curse?

Radioactive isotopes are just elements which have a tendency to undergo alpha, beta or gamma radiation to bring themselves to a stable electron configuration.


Why does radon undergo radioactive decay?

No stable isotopes.


List of radioactive elements?

Elements that decay (give off protons and neutrons) to form other elements. *It's not elements as such that are stable or unstable, but rather isotopes. Even elements of small atomic number have unstable isotopes that undergo radioactive decay, for example carbon-14. Elements with higher atomic numbers than Lead (82) are naturally radioactive in all isotopes. Bismuth (83) has an extremely long half-life, but the time generally becomes shorter (the decay more rapid) as the size of the nucleus gets progressively larger for heavier radioactive elements.


Why does thorium undergo radioactive decay?

The ratio neutrons/protons in radioactive isotopes is the cause of their innstability.


Is radioactivity a curse?

Radioactive isotopes are just elements which have a tendency to undergo alpha, beta or gamma radiation to bring themselves to a stable electron configuration.


Does the element aluminum undergo radioactive decay?

All elements have some isotopes that undergo radioactive decay, the question is how fast.Aluminum comes in three major isotopes, each with their own half-life:Al-26: 730000 years - 0% in natural aluminumAl-27: Stable - 100% in natural aluminumAl-28: 2.3 minutes - 0% in natural aluminumSo as natural aluminum is 100% Al-27 it does not undergo radioactive decay


Is xenon radioactve?

Some isotopes of xenon do undergo radioactive decay to caesium.


Does silicon undergo radioactive decay?

The 3 isotopes that make up all naturally occurring silicon (28, 29, 30) on earth are all stable and thus do not undergo radioactive decay. But other silicon isotopes that are lighter or heavier can be produced by particle accelerators, nuclear reactors, nuclear explosions, or rarely cosmic rays do undergo radioactive decay via either -Beta, +Beta, or Gamma emission depending on isotope.Silicon does exist in space near very active stars, supernovas, etc. in the form of isotopes that undergo radioactive decay.The longest lived silicon isotope (32) that will undergo radioactive decay, has a halflife of roughly 700 years and thus will effectively completely decay to stable sulfur-32 in less than 4000 years. All other silicon isotopes that undergo radioactive decay have halflives so short that they finish decaying to stable isotopes of other elements in much less than a single day.


What is the meaninq of two isotopes stable and unstable isotopes?

Isotopes are atoms of the same element with different numbers of neutrons. Stable isotopes have a balanced number of protons and neutrons, meaning their nuclei do not decay over time. Unstable isotopes, also known as radioactive isotopes, have an imbalance of protons and neutrons, causing their nuclei to decay and emit radiation over time.


Is xenon dangerous?

There are 40 unstable isotopes (an element contained in xenon) that undergo radioactive decay.


What is the lightest element that can undergo radioactive decay and what type of decay occurs in that element?

The lightest "element" that can undergo radioactive decay is the isotope hydrogen-3, which undergoes beta decay. The lightest element with no radioactively stable isotopes is technetium, and its isotopes have different modes of decay.