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What kind of radioactive decay does carbon-14 experience?

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Quick Answer

Carbon-14 undergoes a beta-minus decay. Carbon-14, which is one of the carbon radioisotopes with eight neutrons instead of the normal six, emits weak beta radiation.

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Full Answer

During a beta-minus decay, a neutron converts into a proton, which remains in the atom's nucleus, and a highly energized electron or beta particle. In the case of carbon-14, its atomic number, which refers to number of protons has an addition of one, while its atomic mass, which refers to total of protons and neutrons, is the same. This results in the formation of nitrogen-14 atom.

Carbon-14 has a half-life of 5,730 years, and it is commonly used for radioactive dating. The process of determining the age of previously living organisms is called radioactive dating.

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