Magnesium is a chemical element with the atomic number 12 and the chemical symbol Mg. It is a highly reactive silvery-white metal. It has many important uses and is an essential mineral nutrient for healthy plants and animals. Magnesium is the fourth most abundant element on Earth and all of this naturally occurring magnesium is made up of 3 stable isotopes. However, many other isotopes of magnesium have also been discovered.
How many isotopes does magnesium have?
The 3 stable isotopes of magnesium are 24Mg, 25Mg and 26Mg. Of these 24Mg makes up about 79% of all the magnesium on Earth, followed by 26Mg at 11% and 25Mg at 10%. There are also 19 radioactive (unstable) isotopes of magnesium that have been identified. Of these 28Mg has the longest half life at 10.915 hours. Almost all of the remaining unstable isotopes of magnesium have a half life of less than a minute and many of these have a half life of less than a second. The isotope with the shortest half life is thought to be 39Mg, which has a half life of less than 180 nanoseconds.
Did you know?
The stable isotope 26Mg is used in radiodating. The radioactive isotope 28Mg was once created in commercial quantities by nuclear power plants for use in scientific experiments.