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The chemical element actinium has a total number of electrons of eighty-nine. Electrons of an element are arranged according to specific rules in different orbitals and shells, which is called the electron configuration. Electron configuration is very important for understanding atomic behavior.
Actinium is a silvery radioactive metallic element, and it glows blue in the dark because of its high radioactivity. It is the namesake of the actinide group in the Periodic Table, which consists of the elements that follow uranium and thorium, such as polonium, radium, and radon. It was discovered in 1899 by Andre-Louis Debierne, who separated it from pitchblende, and it was later independently isolated by Friedrich Otto Giesel in 1902. It is extremely rare — one tonne of uranium ore contains less than 0.2 milligrams of actinium. It is found in traces in uranium and thorium ores, but it is also produced synthetically as an isotope by the neutron irradiation of radium.
The most stable isotope of actinium has 138 neutrons in its nucleus and an atomic mass of 227. Actinium is toxic and very radioactive, with a half-life of about 185 days and a decay path that leads to the formation of lead, with radioactive lead (Pb) having many health effects, including cancers, leukemia, miscarriages, stillbirths, deformities, and genetic damage. It can also contaminate water, soil, and other materials by dispersing in the air and sinking into groundwater and oceans.