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At this very moment, cosmic rays are penetrating the Earth's atmosphere and colliding with atoms in the stratosphere to form secondary cosmic trays of highly energetic neutrons . These energized subatomic particles then collide with the nitrogen-14 that in large part makes up our atmosphere; the subsequent neutron capture produces both hydrogen and radioactive carbon-14 atoms (subsequently referred to as C-14). These radioactive carbon atoms go on to form carbon dioxide molecules that arefatcat:x6mj3verknd5jni33pju4wflne