A stationary radium atom decays, emiting an alpha particle. Why is the recoil speed of the nucleus small compared to the alpha particle?

  • Google+ icon
  • LinkedIn icon
  • 709 views

Initially the momentum is zero.

Due to conservation of momentum, the alpha particle and radium nucleus must gain equal but opposite momentum.

The mass of the radium nucleus is greater than the mass of the alpha particle.

Therefore, the alpha particle has a much greater speed after emission than the radium nucleus. (p = mv)

Daisy D. A Level Chemistry tutor, GCSE Chemistry tutor, A Level Maths...

About the author

is an online A Level Physics tutor with MyTutor studying at Durham University

Still stuck? Get one-to-one help from a personally interviewed subject specialist.

95% of our customers rate us

Browse tutors

We use cookies to improve your site experience. By continuing to use this website, we'll assume that you're OK with this. Dismiss

mtw:mercury1:status:ok