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.Continue Reading
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 >
The nucleus of an atom is the region found in the center of the atom. It consists of the protons and neutrons. The nucleus makes up the majority of an atom's mass; the other part making up the atom's mass is the outer electron clouds surrounding the nucleus.Full Answer >
The number next to isotopes signifies the sum of the number of protons plus the number of neutrons in the nucleus of an atom. For a particular element, the number of protons never changes, but the number of neutrons can vary.Full Answer >
The center of an atom is called the atom's nucleus. This structure is usually composed of protons and neutrons though some atoms of hydrogen have only protons.Full Answer >