Alpha particle

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  • A helium nucleus.
  • Helium ion with 2+ charge; an assembly of two protons and two neutrons.
  • A positively charged particle 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. Alpha particles are hazardous when an alpha-emitting isotope is inside the body.
    Source: U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  • A helium atom lacking electrons and therefore having a double positive charge.
    Source: Leet, L. Don. 1982. Physical Geology, 6th Edition. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall

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