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Atom ?

  1. May 10, 2010 #1
    how do i make a hydrogen atom , if i shoot an electron by a proton will it start to orbit the proton , what dictates whether it will orbit or not .
  2. jcsd
  3. May 10, 2010 #2


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    It is primarily a question of mechanics - similar to a planet in relation to a star. Basically it depends on the speed and direction of the electron relative to the proton.
  4. May 10, 2010 #3
    Does it have anything to do with their wave-functions overlapping .
  5. May 11, 2010 #4
    The classical and quantum-mechanical answers to this question are totally different.

    Classically you have the standard 1/r^2 potential well and can solve the two-body problem analytically to find the conditions for capture and escape (which turn out to be elliptical and parabolic orbits), given a known starting position and velocity. However, whether you count an electron orbiting a proton with an eccentricity of 0.99 as an "atom" might depend on whether you call Pluto a planet! You also need to disregard radiation which will lead to fast decaying orbits.

    Quantum mechanically I know a lot less about. You can probably find solutions to the static Schroedinger equation in a coulomb potential and argue they represent an atom, but a free electron appears in the maths as a wave with a time-dependant element so I don't know how it would be approached.
  6. May 11, 2010 #5
    I see thanks for your answers maybe i will wait until i take QM
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