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I know that electrons can be isolated through human intervention from their atoms. My question rather concerns if electrons are ever lost or gained naturally. I recognize that this is a stupid question but I couldn't find the answer on the Internet.

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My question rather concerns if electrons are ever lost or gained naturally.

Yes, they can!

Here are two examples of natural processes by which atoms can gain or lose electrons "naturally":

Electron Capture

In the natural radioactive decay process known as electron capture the nucleus captures an inner-shell electron, K- or sometimes L-shell. This results in a proton being converted to a neutron, and the emission of a neutrino. The atom has lost an electron, but conveniently a proton as well, so it remains neutral but with a deep vacancy.

Auger Process

If the vacancy is filled by a higher shell electron falling into it this can result in the emission of a photon, or in the emission of yet another electron. That emission is referred to as the Auger process.


See Electron capture; Reaction_details for examples.

enter image description here Source

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  • $\begingroup$ @DanielÁlvarez yes indeed, thank you! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jul 15 at 5:59

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