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alpha particle

alpha particle, one of the three types of radiation resulting from natural radioactivity. Alpha radiation (or alpha rays) was distinguished and named by E. R. Rutherford in 1909, who found by measuring the charge and mass of alpha particles that they are the nuclei of ordinary helium atoms. Alpha particles consist of two protons and two neutrons (see nucleus).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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