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A nucleus decays by giving

  1. Alpha particles
  2. Beta particles
  3. Gamma particles

My question is, why does nucleus decay in only 3 ways? Why don't we see proton emission or neutron emission etc.?

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    $\begingroup$ What about spontaneous fission? $\endgroup$ – Jon Custer Mar 18 '18 at 15:47
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    $\begingroup$ It does not. There are many other possible modes of decay (electron capture, proton emission, light nuclei emission), but those are simply the most common ones; $\endgroup$ – Slereah Mar 18 '18 at 15:48
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    $\begingroup$ Sixteen different radioactive decay modes are listed on this wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioactive_decay. That doesn't mean there are sixteen different kinds of ionizing radiation, but there's definitely more than just those three. $\endgroup$ – Solomon Slow Mar 18 '18 at 15:49
  • $\begingroup$ I can't remember the name of the source substance but back in physics lab 55 years ago, we did an experiment using a show neutron source. $\endgroup$ – K7PEH Mar 18 '18 at 15:49
  • $\begingroup$ Because the Ramans are in charge of the universe, perhaps. $\endgroup$ – Marco Mar 18 '18 at 17:47
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The comment by @james-large contains the essential answer. I repeat it here and give a bit more context.

why does nucleus decay in only 3 ways?

The nucleus decays in more ways than 3. You refer to alpha, beta, and gamma radiation but there are many other ways a nucleus can decay as shown in the wikipedia link in the comments, again here.

Alpha, beta, and gamma radiations are the most commonly referenced because they are the most common on Earth and they were the first three to be discovered (they are in fact named for the first three Greek letters). The main particles emitted in these decays have long since been identified - the "alpha" particle a Helium-4 nucleus, the "beta" particle is and electron or positron, and the "gamma" particle is a photon. Nevertheless, the original names have remained.

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