What are the main differences in alpha decay and beta decay?

1 Answer

Alpha decay releases a helium nucleus, while beta decay only releases an electron.


Alpha decay is the release of a helium nucleus, which is two protons and two neutrons. This decreases the total mass by #4# and the atomic number by #2#.

Beta decay is the decay of a neutron into a proton, which releases an electron. This keeps the mass the same, but increases the atomic number by #1#.