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Polonium is a rare element with 33 radioisotopes. The most common one, 210 Po, has 82 protons and 128 neutrons. When 210 Po decays, it emits an alpha particle, which is a helium nucleus (2 protons and 2 neutrons). 210 Po decay is tricky to detect because alpha particles do not carry very much energy compared to other forms of radiation. They can be stopped by, for example, a sheet of paper or a few inches of air. This property is one reason why authorities failed to discover toxic amounts of 210 Po in the body of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko until after he died suddenly and mysteriously in 2006. What element does an atom of 210 Po decay into after it emits an alpha particle?

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Biology: The Unity and Diversity o...

15th Edition
Cecie Starr + 3 others
Publisher: Cengage Learning
ISBN: 9781337408332
BuyFind

Biology: The Unity and Diversity o...

15th Edition
Cecie Starr + 3 others
Publisher: Cengage Learning
ISBN: 9781337408332

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Chapter
Section
Chapter 2, Problem 3CT
Textbook Problem
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Polonium is a rare element with 33 radioisotopes. The most common one, 210Po, has 82 protons and 128 neutrons. When 210Po decays, it emits an alpha particle, which is a helium nucleus (2 protons and 2 neutrons). 210Po decay is tricky to detect because alpha particles do not carry very much energy compared to other forms of radiation. They can be stopped by, for example, a sheet of paper or a few inches of air. This property is one reason why authorities failed to discover toxic amounts of 210Po in the body of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko until after he died suddenly and mysteriously in 2006.

What element does an atom of 210Po decay into after it emits an alpha particle?

Expert Solution
Summary Introduction

To explain: What element an atom of P210o decays into after emitting an alpha particle.

Concept introduction: Polonium exhibits alpha decay. Alpha decay or α-decay is a type of decay of radioactive elements, where the radioactive element’s atomic nucleus emits an α-particle. α-particle is identical to a helium atom that has two protons and two neutrons.

Explanation of Solution

The following is the alpha decay reaction of polonium 210.

P84210oP82206b+H24e

From the mass number 210 of Polonium, 4 as that of helium is reduced; now mass number  is 206 and from atomic number 84 of Polonium, 2 as that of helium is reduced ; now atomic number is 82

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