Hamilton, Joseph H. Department of Physics and Astronomy, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee.
Last reviewed:June 2020
- Size, shape, and charge density distribution
- Nuclear masses and binding energies
- Nuclear spins, nucleon orbitals, and parities
- Nuclear models
- Vibrational and rotational models
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
All the properties of the atomic nucleus, from the ground-state masses, spins, parities, and shapes, and the decay modes and lifetimes of radioactive nuclei, to the individual and collective properties of the protons and neutrons in the ground and excited nuclear states. The nucleus of an atom is made up of protons and neutrons, which are held together by the strong force. The radii of atoms, determined by the electron orbits, are of the order of 10−10 m, whereas nuclear radii are of the order of 10−15 m. Since volumes go as the radius cubed, the volumes of nuclei are 1015 times smaller than those of atoms. One of the central motivations for probing all aspects of nuclear structure is that the nucleus is a major, if not the only, testing ground in an important intermediate realm of quantum-mechanical, many-body problems, namely, systems with an intermediate number of particles: too few to be treated by statistical methods but too many to be treated easily one by one. See also: Atomic nucleus
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