A nuclear change is an alteration to the structure of an atom's nucleus. This can happen with the addition of particles (as with fusion), the removal of particles (as with fission), or the spontaneous decay of the atom from one isotope to another.Know More
In fusion, two atoms of a relatively light element collide with enough kinetic energy that their nuclei merge, or fuse, into a new, relatively heavy element. Fission is the opposite process. In fission, a heavy nucleus splits and emits energy, forming two lighter atoms in the process.
Another type of nuclear change involves the spontaneous alteration of a proton into a neutron or of a neutron into a proton. This process can change the isotope number of a single element, or it can convert an atom of one element into an atom of another element.
Nuclear changes are not to be confused with chemical changes. Chemical changes occur when the electrons of atoms interact with each other in new ways. During chemical changes, the nuclei of the atoms involved are not altered in any way. For nuclear changes, however, the electrons are essentially disregarded, as they play little to no role in the processes taking place in the heart of the atom.Learn more about Atoms & Molecules
A nucleus of an atom can be compared to the sun of a solar system because the nucleus, like the sun, is the largest part of an atom and its electrons orbit around it, much like planets in a solar system. Atoms can also gain or lose electrons similarly to how stars can gain or lose planets.Full Answer >
Carbon has six protons in its nucleus, so its atomic number is six. It also has six neutrons in its nucleus and typically has six electrons as well.Full Answer >
In most atoms, electrons occupy a zone exterior to the nucleus. Though electrons are often represented as particles in discreet orbits around the nucleus, they cannot be said to occupy a specific point in space. Rather, their position can be described as a wave function.Full Answer >
An atomic number represents the amount of protons that an element consists of in its nucleus. It is the identifying number that is unique to one atom of the specific element.Full Answer >