You are watching: A one or two letter representation of an element
It"s crucial to be able to identify atoms of one aspect from atoms of an additional element. Elements are pure substances that make up all other issue, so each one is offered a distinctive name. The names of aspects are likewise represented by unique one- or two-letter symbols, such as (ceH) for hydrogen, (ceC) for carbon, or (ceHe) for helium. However before, it would certainly even more effective if these names might be provided to recognize the numbers of proloads and neutrons in the atoms. That"s where atomic number and mass numberare useful.
Scientists identify in between various aspects by counting the number of proloads in the nucleus (Table (PageIndex1)). If an atom has actually only one proton, we understand that it"s a hydrogen atom. An atom with 2 proloads is constantly a helium atom. If scientists count 4 proloads in an atom, they know it"s a beryllium atom. An atom via three proloads is a lithium atom, an atom via five protons is a boron atom, an atom with six protons is a carbon atom . . . the list goes on.
Because an atom of one aspect have the right to be distinguiburned from an atom of another facet by the variety of protons in its nucleus, scientists are constantly interested in this number, and also just how this number differs in between various facets. The number of prolots in an atom is referred to as its atomic number ((Z)). This number is incredibly vital because it is distinctive for atoms of a provided element. All atoms of an element have the very same variety of protons, and eexceptionally element has a different variety of protons in its atoms. For instance, all helium atoms have actually 2 prolots, and also no various other elements have actually atoms with 2 prolots.
Of course, given that neutral atoms need to have one electron for eextremely proton, an element"s atomic number also tells you just how many type of electrons are in a neutral atom of that aspect. For instance, hydrogen has an atomic variety of 1. This means that an atom of hydrogen has one proton, and also, if it"s neutral, one electron also. Gold, on the various other hand, has actually an atomic number of 79, which indicates that an atom of gold has 79 proloads, and also, if it"s neutral, 79 electrons as well.
The mass number ((A)) of an atom is the total variety of protons and neutrons in its nucleus. The mass of the atom is a unit referred to as the atomic mass unit (left( extamu ight)). One atomic mass unit is the mass of a proton, or around (1.67 imes 10^-27) kilograms, which is a really small mass. A neutron has simply a tiny little more mass than a proton, however its mass is regularly assumed to be one atomic mass unit too. Due to the fact that electrons have actually practically no mass, just around all the mass of an atom is in its protons and neutrons. As such, the complete number of protons and also neutrons in an atom determines its mass in atomic mass devices (Table (PageIndex1)).
Consider helium again. Most helium atoms have 2 neutrons in enhancement to two prolots. As such the mass of a lot of helium atoms is 4 atomic mass systems ((2 : extamu) for the protons + (2 : extamu) for the neutrons). However, some helium atoms have actually more or much less than two neutrons. Atoms via the exact same variety of protons however different numbers of neutrons are called isotopes. Because the variety of neutrons deserve to vary for a given facet, the mass numbers of various atoms of an element may likewise vary. For instance, some helium atoms have actually 3 neutrons rather of two (these are called isotopes and also are questioned in information later on on).
Why perform you think that the "mass number" consists of proloads and also neutrons, but not electrons? You recognize that many of the mass of an atom is concentrated in its nucleus. The mass of an atom relies on the number of prolots and neutrons. You have actually already learned that the mass of an electron is very, exceptionally tiny compared to the mass of either a proton or a neutron (like the mass of a penny compared to the mass of a bowling ball). Counting the variety of prolots and neutrons tells scientists about the full mass of an atom.
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< extmass number : A = left( extnumber of protons ight) + left( extnumber of neutrons ight)>
An atom"s mass number is exceptionally straightforward to calculate, gave that you recognize the variety of proloads and also neutrons in an atom.
What is the mass variety of an atom of helium that has 2 neutrons?
(left( extnumber of protons ight) = 2) (Remember that an atom of helium always has 2 protons.)
(left( extvariety of neutrons ight) = 2)
( extmass number = left( extnumber of protons ight) + left( extvariety of neutrons ight))