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What's the thermal energy of a helium atom?

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  1. Jan 9, 2016 #1
    I have this formula "E= 1/2 mv^2" which I don't fully understand. Also, I don't have the values for helium's mass and velocity.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 9, 2016 #2

    Andrew Mason

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    Welcome to PF JoAstro!

    It is not clear what your question is. Individual atoms do not have a temperature. But large numbers of atoms can have a temperature. Is the question you are trying to answer: what is the average kinetic energy of a helium atom in a volume of helium gas that is at a particular temperature?

    The kinetic energy of a body of mass m moving at speed v is ##KE = \frac{1}{2}mv^2##. And the average kinetic energy of the atoms of a monatomic gas at a temperature T is: ##<KE> = \frac{3}{2}kT##

    Does that help you?

    AM
     
  4. Jan 10, 2016 #3
    Hi Andrew. Thank you!!

    I'm not sure about what you say, but I just noticed that I misread the question thinking it was another. The real question was meant for hydrogen which said "What is the typical thermal energy of a hydrogen atom?" However, the question I meant to ask was "What is the velocity of a helium atom in the photosphere of a star?"

    I'm sorry about the confusion!

    Thanks again.
     
  5. Jan 10, 2016 #4

    Andrew Mason

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    First you need to detrmine the temperature. Then apply the relationship between T and v.

    AM
     
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