Problem: Write all the balanced nuclear equation for each step of the nuclear decay sequence that starts with U-238 and ends with U-234.Complete the second step. 23490 Th  →  23491 Pa + ?

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We’re being asked to complete the given partial decay series


23490 Th  23491 Pa + ?


To do so, we need to determine the product that forms during the decay of the initial nuclide.


Recall that in a nuclear reaction, the number of protons and neutrons is affected and the identity of the element changes


The different types of radioactive decay are:

• Alpha decay: forms an alpha particle (42α, atomic mass = 4, atomic number = 2)

• Beta decay: forms a beta particle (0–1β, atomic mass = 0, atomic number = –1). The beta particle appears in the product side.

• Gamma emission: forms a gamma particle (00γ, atomic mass = 0, atomic number = 0)

• Positron emission: forms a positron particle (01e, atomic mass = 0, atomic number = 1)

• Electron capture: the initial nuclide captures an electron (0–1e, atomic mass = 0, atomic number = –1). The electron appears in the reactant side.


The nuclear equation must be balanced with the same total atomic mass and atomic number on both sides.

Step 1: Balance the atomic mass on both sides.

Step 2: Balance the atomic number on both sides.

Step 3: Identify the particle formed.


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Problem Details

Write all the balanced nuclear equation for each step of the nuclear decay sequence that starts with U-238 and ends with U-234.

Complete the second step. 23490 Th  →  23491 Pa + ?