Chemical element, symbol Ra and atomic number 88 / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Radium is a chemical element with the symbol Ra and atomic number 88. It is the sixth element in group 2 of the periodic table, also known as the alkaline earth metals. Pure radium is silvery-white, but it readily reacts with nitrogen (rather than oxygen) upon exposure to air, forming a black surface layer of radium nitride (Ra3N2). All isotopes of radium are radioactive, the most stable isotope being radium-226 with a half-life of 1,600 years. When radium decays, it emits ionizing radiation as a by-product, which can excite fluorescent chemicals and cause radioluminescence.

Quick facts: Radium, Pronunciation, Appearance, Mass numbe...
Radium, 88Ra
Pronunciation/ˈrdiəm/ (RAY-dee-əm)
Appearancesilvery white metallic
Mass number[226]
Radium in the periodic table


Atomic number (Z)88
Groupgroup 2 (alkaline earth metals)
Periodperiod 7
Block  s-block
Electron configuration[Rn] 7s2
Electrons per shell2, 8, 18, 32, 18, 8, 2
Physical properties
Phase at STPsolid
Melting point973 K (700 °C, 1292 °F) (disputed)
Boiling point2010 K (1737 °C, 3159 °F)
Density (near r.t.)5.5 g/cm3
Heat of fusion8.5 kJ/mol
Heat of vaporization113 kJ/mol
Vapor pressure
P (Pa) 1 10 100 1 k 10 k 100 k
at T (K) 819 906 1037 1209 1446 1799
Atomic properties
Oxidation states+2 (expected to have a strongly basic oxide)
ElectronegativityPauling scale: 0.9
Ionization energies
  • 1st: 509.3 kJ/mol
  • 2nd: 979.0 kJ/mol
Covalent radius221±2 pm
Van der Waals radius283 pm
Color lines in a spectral range
Spectral lines of radium
Other properties
Natural occurrencefrom decay
Crystal structure body-centered cubic (bcc)
Body-centered cubic crystal structure for radium
Thermal conductivity18.6 W/(m⋅K)
Electrical resistivity1 µΩ⋅m (at 20 °C)
Magnetic orderingnonmagnetic
CAS Number7440-14-4
DiscoveryPierre and Marie Curie (1898)
First isolationMarie Curie (1910)
Isotopes of radium
Main isotopes[1] Decay
abun­dance half-life (t1/2) mode pro­duct
223Ra trace 11.43 d α 219Rn
224Ra trace 3.6319 d α 220Rn
225Ra trace 14.9 d β 225Ac
226Ra trace 1599 y α 222Rn
228Ra trace 5.75 y β 228Ac
Symbol_category_class.svg Category: Radium
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Radium, in the form of radium chloride, was discovered by Marie and Pierre Curie in 1898 from ore mined at Jáchymov. They extracted the radium compound from uraninite and published the discovery at the French Academy of Sciences five days later. Radium was isolated in its metallic state by Marie Curie and André-Louis Debierne through the electrolysis of radium chloride in 1911.[2]

In nature, radium is found in uranium and (to a lesser extent) thorium ores in trace amounts as small as a seventh of a gram per ton of uraninite. Radium is not necessary for living organisms, and its radioactivity and chemical reactivity make adverse health effects likely when it is incorporated into biochemical processes because of its chemical mimicry of calcium. As of 2014, other than its use in nuclear medicine, radium has no commercial applications. Formerly, around the 1950s, it was used as a radioactive source for radioluminescent devices and also in radioactive quackery for its supposed curative power. These applications have become obsolete owing to radium's toxicity; as of 2020, less dangerous isotopes (of other elements) are instead used in radioluminescent devices.