An alpha particle is a positively charged particle that
may be ejected spontaneously from the nuclei of some radioactive elements.
It is identical to a helium nucleus that has a mass number of 4 and an electrostatic
charge of +2. It has low penetrating power and a short range (a few centimeters
in air). The most energetic alpha particle will generally fail to penetrate
the dead layers of cells covering the skin and can be easily stopped by a
sheet of paper.
|last modified 9/9/2004 email Fermilab|
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