What causes the production of carbon-14 in the atmosphere?

Carbon-14 is produced in the stratosphere by nuclear reactions of atmospheric nitrogen with thermal neutrons produced naturally by cosmic rays (with the highest production rate 10 to 13 miles above Earth’s poles), as well as by atmospheric nuclear weapons testing in the 1950s and ’60s.

What event caused the carbon-14 level in the atmosphere to change?

As far as we can tell, the levels of carbon-14 remained roughly constant throughout the world throughout the past few millennia. The only known fluctuation in this pattern, at least as of the early 2010s, was from the detonation of nuclear weapons in the open air.

What is produced when a nitrogen-14 nucleus is bombarded with a neutron?

These neutrons readily react with 14Nitrogen, the most abundant atom found in our atmosphere. In this reaction, stable, nitrogen-14 gains a neutron which would have changed it to a heavier isotope of nitrogen, namely nitrogen-15. However, a proton is lost in the reaction.

What is the decay process of carbon-14?

C decays by a process called beta decay. During this process, an atom of 14C decays into an atom of 14N, during which one of the neutrons in the carbon atom becomes a proton. This increases the number of protons in the atom by one, creating a nitrogen atom rather than a carbon atom.

How is carbon-14 formed in a nuclear reactor?

Carbon-14 is formcd naturally by reaction of neutrons of cosmic ray origin in the upper atmosphere with nitrogen and, to a Lesser extent, with oxygen and carbon. Large amounts of I4C have also been formed in the atmosphere as a result of nuclear weapons explosions.

What happens to one of the neutrons in a carbon-14 nucleus?

By emitting an electron and an electron antineutrino, one of the neutrons in the carbon-14 atom decays to a proton and the carbon-14 (half-life of 5,730 ± 40 years) decays into the stable (non-radioactive) isotope nitrogen-14.

What element will be produced if carbon-14 undergoes beta decay?

Explanation: The carbon-14 atoms undergo beta-minus decay (electron emission) and produce a beta particle and a nitrogen-14 atom.

How many neutrons are in carbon-14?

eight neutrons
For example, carbon-14 is a radioactive isotope of carbon that has six protons and eight neutrons in its nucleus.

How does nitrogen turn into carbon-14?

Carbon-14 is continually formed in nature by the interaction of neutrons with nitrogen-14 in the Earth’s atmosphere; the neutrons required for this reaction are produced by cosmic rays interacting with the atmosphere.

What type of reaction does carbon-14 undergo?

The type of radioactive decay that carbon-14 undergoes (called beta decay) changes it from radioactive carbon to a plain-old stable atom with seven protons and neutrons — nitrogen. It’s happening in us right now, because a tiny fraction of the carbon in the food we eat is radioactive carbon-14.

Which nucleus is produced after a radioactive emission from a carbon-14 nucleus?

Because carbon-14 has six protons, it is still carbon, but the two extra neutrons make the nucleus unstable. In order to reach a more stable state, carbon-14 releases a negatively charged particle from its nucleus that turns one of the neutrons into a proton.