What are atomic nuclei in nuclear physics?

Question:

What are atomic nuclei in nuclear physics?

Discovering the Smaller Particles of the Atom:

At one time in scientific history, scientists believed that the atom was the smallest unit of matter in the universe. They believed the atom was a particle and that there were simply different types of atoms. However, researchers in the late 1800s and early 1900s discovered that atoms were made of smaller particles called protons, neutrons, and electrons. More recently, they discovered that even the protons and neutrons were made of smaller particles called quarks.

Answer and Explanation: 1

In nuclear physics, atomic nuclei are the positively charged, dense center of the atom. An atomic nucleus is made of positively charged protons and neutrally charged neutrons. The number of protons determines the element of the atom while the combined number of protons and neutrons determines the mass number, and thus the isotope, of the atom. For example, carbon-14 contains six protons in the nucleus and eight neutrons in the nucleus. The six protons designate the atom as carbon, while the total number of protons and neutrons determines that the atom has a mass number of 14.


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Atomic Nucleus: Definition, Structure & Size

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Chapter 22 / Lesson 3
43K

Learn the definition of the nucleus of an atom. Learn about the particles found in the nucleus and the structure of an atom. Discover the charge of the nucleus.


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