Space between nucleus and electrons

  • #1
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As the title suggests. What is the space between the nucleus and electrons of an atom?

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  • #2
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Id be interested to know this too :)
 
  • #3
phinds
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This is not really a meaningful question, since it assumes that electrons have known positions, but they don't. Electrons exist in a probability cloud near the nucleus. You might be thinking of the Bohr model of the atom (which was found a long time ago to not represent reality) which shows the electrons orbiting the nucleus the way a planet orbits the sun.
 
  • #4
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Its some sort of energy bond?
 
  • #5
phinds
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Its some sort of energy bond?
Yes, there IS an energy bond, but I don't understand how you are relating that to the amount of space.
 
  • #6
phinds
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OH ... I just realized. Your question is totally ambiguous. I thought you were asking how much space there is. Are you asking what is IN the space?
 
  • #7
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As the title suggests. What is the space between the nucleus and electrons of an atom?
As phinds says, that's not really a clearly defined concept. However, we can give you an answer that may be close to what you're trying to ask:

A hydrogen atom has a radius of about ##5\times{10}^{-11}## meters (google for "Bohr radius" to see exactly what this means). The nucleus has a radius less than ##10^{-15}## meters, so for all practical purposes the distance from the center is the distance from the nucleus, and we can go with ##5\times{10}^{-11}## meters as the answer.

To get a sense of the distances involved.... If the atom were the size of a soccer ("football" for the non-American world) field, the nucleus would be about the size of the ball.
 
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  • #8
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Ok, I thought I was clear. What is in the space between them. Meaning not what the nucleus or electron are composed of and not there distance. But what is in the SPACE of the atom excluding the nucleus and electron.
 
  • #9
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Ok, I thought I was clear. What is in the space between them. Meaning not what the nucleus or electron are composed of and not there distance. But what is in the SPACE of the atom excluding the nucleus and electron.

Ah - that's easy. Nothing - it's a vacuum.
 
  • #10
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THANKS! that's exactly what I needed to know. I had suspected that was the case but wanted to know for sure was getting mixed ideas else where.
 
  • #11
phinds
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Ok, I thought I was clear.

"What is the space" could be "What is the size of the space" or "What is in the space". Doesn't seem clear to me at all since it could be either one. I'm beating on this because it's an important lesson that in science, careful formulation of a question is critical.
 
  • #12
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As the title suggests. What is the space between the nucleus and electrons of an atom?

Thanks
It's one angstrom.
 
  • #13
Dale
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Ah - that's easy. Nothing - it's a vacuum.
Uh, that is not what I would say. There are some very strong fields in that region, both the electron field and the EM field.
 
  • #14
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There are some very strong fields in that region, both the electron field and the EM field.

True, but I was thinking that fields (which are present everywhere) wasn't what OP had in mind. If I was further misunderstanding the question I apologize.
 
  • #15
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Room for time-varying interactions. The void (or relative lack thereof) between nuclei signifies the speed and strength of their interactions.
 
  • #16
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What I wanted to know is what is IN the space around those subatomic particles like protons, electrons quarks and so on. Empty space would make sense and then in the space the strong force and weak force, possibly more? I know those fields exist. Is there any sort of matter that resides in those places? Please name all you can think of that would be in this region of space of the atom.
 
  • #17
Dale
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was thinking that fields (which are present everywhere) wasn't what OP had in mind.
You are probably right. I would guess that the OP was not asking about fields, but that is all there is at the subatomic level. At that level even matter is just fields.
 
  • #18
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There ,I think is no meaning of empty space.
Even coulomb field is I think explained by Dirac as follows
"Field gives rise to an electron and an anti electron and any other electron can annihilate into this anti elctron and such electrons and antielectrons give rise to maintenance of field"
Please correct me if this understanding is doubtful.
(Ihave assumed field before explaining it which I don't understand )
 
  • #19
Dale
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I know those fields exist. Is there any sort of matter that resides in those places?
At those scales matter is also described by fields. In other words there is a field for electrons and the electron around the nucleus is an excitation of this field. That matter field is quite strong in the space surrounding the nucleus.
 
  • #20
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@DaleSpam Interesting, I find the whole idea of a field a bit difficult to grasp. All matter you say is fundamentally fields, electrons, protons, quarks et cetera. How would you define these fields?

Thanks
 
  • #21
Dale
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This is the subject of quantum field theory and the standard model. I am by no means an expert, and even if I were it is a huge topic.
 
  • #22
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I see, I talked with a physicist recently and he brought up the idea of the double-slit experiment.I told him that I heard that the observer changes where the atoms go. He said that's what people think when they don't fully understand what's going on. He said it's all about fields, light is a field and it changes form. Is this true? Like, essentially everything is changing forms.
 
  • #23
Dale
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Light is a field. Specifically, the electromagnetic field.

I am not sure what he meant by "changes form".
 
  • #24
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The way I understood this question is that there is quite a bit of "empty space" in a normal atom under normal conditions. And this is why so much matter can be compressed into such small volumes when enough energy is present to overcome the degeneracy pressure. But thats just my own visual interpretation and I could be entirely wrong. I certainly am no expert in the mathematics of the situation.
 
  • #25
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I think that was more my interpretation of what he was saying. I wish I remembered more of that conversation it was quite deep. Oddly know a few physicists which is why I like coming to this site to gain more insight in their understanding.
 
  • #26
Dale
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The way I understood this question is that there is quite a bit of "empty space" in a normal atom under normal conditions.
That certainly would be correct in the Rutherford and Bohr models of the atom, but both of those have been superseded for quite some time. In modern theories that region is filled with fields, including matter fields.
 
  • #27
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I'd like to hear you idea of what a field is even if you aren't an expert on it.
 
  • #28
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That certainly would be correct in the Rutherford and Bohr models of the atom, but both of those have been superseded for quite some time. In modern theories that region is filled with fields, including matter fields.

I understand that there are fields present, but when talking about an extremely dense form of matter such as a Neutron star that has overcome electron degeneracy pressure, are the nuclei not closer to one another spatially than they could ever be under normal conditions? To me this implies that an object like the Earth has plenty of room to compress its size, although I realize the energy required is immense.
 
  • #29
Dale
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To me this implies that an object like the Earth has plenty of room to compress its size, although I realize the energy required is immense.
Compressibility does not imply the existence of empty space, and the fact that energy is required seems to imply the opposite. After all, how much work does it take to compress vacuum?
 
  • #30
Dale
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I'd like to hear you idea of what a field is even if you aren't an expert on it.
A field is any physical quantity that has a value (which may be 0) at each event in spacetime.
 
  • #31
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Compressibility does not imply the existence of empty space, and the fact that energy is required seems to imply the opposite. After all, how much work does it take to compress vacuum?

What is it that is actually gets compressed then in a neutron star? I had assumed that what seemed like solid ground was only solid due to electron repulsion of the atoms.(Of course there are chemical bonds, etc as well) And If this repulsion is overcome, the nuclei compress closer together spatially.

And compression of vacuum is "easy" until pressure is equalized correct? At which point it begins taking more and more energy to force more matter into the same volume.

I apologize if my questions seem overly naive.
 
  • #32
Dale
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And compression of vacuum is "easy" until pressure is equalized correct? At which point it begins taking more and more energy to force more matter into the same volume.
Exactly. Compressing vacuum is easy. Compressing atoms is not.

So it doesn't seem like the compression of atoms implies the presence of vacuum inside the atom. There is something different about the inside of an atom and what we normally think of as vacuum.
 
  • #33
Dale
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What is it that is actually gets compressed then in a neutron star?
In a neutron star the material is fundamentally different. There are no longer atoms which have been squeezed. The squeezing destroys the electrons and protons and creates neutrons. It is primarily the absence of electrons which accounts for the higher density.
 
  • #34
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In a neutron star the material is fundamentally different. There are no longer atoms which have been squeezed. The squeezing destroys the electrons and protons and creates neutrons. It is primarily the absence of electrons which accounts for the higher density.

I understand what you're saying. I suppose my error is in the visualization of how this compression is occurring.
 
  • #35
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It's like compressing springs so to speak until you break the springs and the nuclei collapse leads to one big nucleus, basic analogy. There is no middle ground once broken, and singularities which are basically the next step everything affects a sphere as if it is in one point.
 

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