Distance between two nucleons

In summary, the potential energy associated with the interaction between nucleons has its minimum at around 0.7 fm, as shown in the graph. However, this is in contrast with the average distance between nucleons, which is typically 1-2 fm, and the average nucleon density, which is 0.17 nucleons/fm^3. This can be explained by the fact that the dimension of a nucleon is approximately 1 fm, but this does not necessarily mean that the average distance between nucleons should also be 1 fm. Other factors also play a role in determining the average distance between nucleons.
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The potential energy associated to the interaction between nucleons has its minimum (point of equilibrium) at ##r\sim 0.7 fm##, as showed in the following graph:

ReidPotential.jpg


Nevertheless, there are two facts that are, apparently, in contrast with this:

- The average distance between nucleons is ##\sim 1-2 fm##
- The average nucleon density is ##\sim 0.17\,\,\ \mathrm{nucleons /fm^3}##

(These two are related because from the second follows a volume of ##\sim 6 fm^2## per nucleon which is in agreement with the average distance between nucleons)

So why is the average distance between nucleons usually greater that the ##0.7 fm## where the potential energy is minimum?

I'm aware that the "dimension" of nucleon is ##\sim 1 fm##. But is this the reason why the distance between two of them cannot be much less?
 

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  • #2
The Coulomb potential has its minimum at ##r = 0##, this does not mean that the average distance of the electron in a hydrogen atom is zero. There is no a priori reason to believe that the potential minimum should be at the same location as the average distance. There are more things that affect this.
 
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1. What is the distance between two nucleons?

The distance between two nucleons, which are the protons and neutrons found in the nucleus of an atom, can vary depending on the specific atom and its energy level. However, on average, the distance between two nucleons is about 1 femtometer (fm), which is equivalent to 1 x 10^-15 meters.

2. How is the distance between two nucleons measured?

The distance between two nucleons is typically measured using a unit called the femtometer (fm), which is equal to 1 x 10^-15 meters. Scientists can measure this distance through experiments that involve colliding particles, such as protons, and analyzing the resulting interactions.

3. How does the distance between two nucleons affect the stability of an atom?

The distance between two nucleons has a significant impact on the stability of an atom. When the distance between nucleons is too large, the atom can become unstable and undergo radioactive decay. On the other hand, if the distance between nucleons is too small, the repulsive forces between the positively charged protons can cause the atom to become unstable and potentially split apart.

4. Can the distance between two nucleons change?

Yes, the distance between two nucleons can change depending on the energy level of the atom and the forces acting on it. For example, in some nuclear reactions, the distance between nucleons can decrease, causing the atom to release energy. In other cases, such as during radioactive decay, the distance between nucleons can increase, resulting in the release of energy.

5. How does the distance between two nucleons differ in different elements?

The distance between two nucleons can vary slightly between different elements. This is because the number of protons and neutrons in the nucleus can affect the overall size and structure of the atom. Generally, the larger the atomic number of an element, the larger the distance between its nucleons. However, this is not always the case, as the specific arrangement of protons and neutrons in the nucleus can also play a role in determining the distance between nucleons.

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