A To Which Of The Following Is The Atomic Number Of A Given Element Equivalent

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Learning Objectives

Define atomic number. Define mass number. Determine the number of protons, neutrons, and electrons in an atom.

You are watching: To which of the following is the atomic number of a given element equivalent

It”s important to be able to distinguish atoms of one element from atoms of another element. Elements are pure substances that make up all other matter, so each one is given a unique name. The names of elements are also represented by unique one- or two-letter symbols, such as (ce{H}) for hydrogen, (ce{C}) for carbon, or (ce{He}) for helium. However, it would more powerful if these names could be used to identify the numbers of protons and neutrons in the atoms. That”s where atomic number and mass numberare useful.

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NameProtonsNeutronsElectronsAtomic Number (Z)Mass Number(A)

Table (PageIndex{1}): Atoms of the First Six Elements

Hydrogen 1 0 1 1 1
Helium 2 2 2 2 4
Lithium 3 4 3 3 7
Beryllium 4 5 4 4 9
Boron 5 6 5 5 11
Carbon 6 6 6 6 12

Of course, since neutral atoms have to have one electron for every proton, an element”s atomic number also tells you how many electrons are in a neutral atom of that element. For example, hydrogen has an atomic number of 1. This means that an atom of hydrogen has one proton, and, if it”s neutral, one electron as well. Gold, on the other hand, has an atomic number of 79, which means that an atom of gold has 79 protons, and, if it”s neutral, 79 electrons as well.

Mass Number

The mass number ((A)) of an atom is the total number of protons and neutrons in its nucleus. The mass of the atom is a unit called the atomic mass unit (left( ext{amu}
ight)). One atomic mass unit is the mass of a proton, or about (1.67 imes 10^{-27}) kilograms, which is an extremely small mass. A neutron has just a tiny bit more mass than a proton, but its mass is often assumed to be one atomic mass unit as well. Because electrons have virtually no mass, just about all the mass of an atom is in its protons and neutrons. Therefore, the total number of protons and neutrons in an atom determines its mass in atomic mass units (Table (PageIndex{1})).

Consider helium again. Most helium atoms have two neutrons in addition to two protons. Therefore the mass of most helium atoms is 4 atomic mass units ((2 : ext{amu}) for the protons + (2 : ext{amu}) for the neutrons). However, some helium atoms have more or less than two neutrons. Atoms with the same number of protons but different numbers of neutrons are called isotopes. Because the number of neutrons can vary for a given element, the mass numbers of different atoms of an element may also vary. For example, some helium atoms have three neutrons instead of two (these are called isotopes and are discussed in detail later on).

Why do you think that the “mass number” includes protons and neutrons, but not electrons? You know that most of the mass of an atom is concentrated in its nucleus. The mass of an atom depends on the number of protons and neutrons. You have already learned that the mass of an electron is very, very small 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 number of protons and neutrons tells scientists about the total mass of an atom.

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< ext{mass number} : A = left( ext{number of protons} ight) + left( ext{number of neutrons} ight)>

An atom”s mass number is very easy to calculate, provided that you know the number of protons and neutrons in an atom.

Example 4.5.1

What is the mass number of an atom of helium that contains 2 neutrons?

Solution

(left( ext{number of protons}
ight) = 2) (Remember that an atom of helium always has 2 protons.)

(left( ext{number of neutrons}
ight) = 2)

( ext{mass number} = left( ext{number of protons}
ight) + left( ext{number of neutrons}
ight))

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