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How Many Protons Are in Helium?

how-many-protons-are-in-helium

ANSWER:

Helium has two protons.

More Info: Helium can be found on the periodic table at atomic number two. This number clearly shows you how many protons an element’s nucleus contains. The atomic number is specifically tied to a single element. There are no overlaps in this regard. A nucleus with two protons will always be helium. Likewise, helium atoms contain two protons despite the conditions or state they are found in.

Atomic Nuclei: Positively Attractive

In order to understand an element like helium, you should consider it on the most elementary level. The atom is the basic unit of an element. While they possess several important features, an atom’s most important characteristic is its nucleus. A nucleus is the centermost part of an atom. In essence, atoms contain different kinds of particles, and the nucleus is the part with an atom’s positive charge. This comes from protons. [1]

Protons: Natural Attractors

An atomic particle with positive charge is called a proton. Each element has some, bundled together with neutral particles called neutrons. As electromagnetic theory suggests, a proton’s positive charge will attract an opposite charge. These take the form of electrons, which are found in rings or shells around the nucleus. An element’s atomic number has a direct effect on the number of electrons, which can be attracted. Helium is special for another reason: it is what is known as a noble gas. Because it has both two protons and two electrons, it is in a perfectly neutral electrical state. This means helium is inert, which means it is unlikely to form chemical compounds with other elements. [2] [3]

Protons: The Universal Identifier

An element’s atomic number is its one unchanging form of identification. Despite the many states they can appear in, a gas, a liquid and a solid form of a single element will always have the same number of protons in its nucleus. Matter state changes are dependent upon temperature and pressure variations, not upon changes in the nucleus. Helium will always have two protons.

 

References

[1] Rollins College-Syri’s Ecology Homepage
Atomic Nucleus Model
http://myweb.rollins.edu/jsiry/AtomModel.html

[2] Georgia State University-Hyperphysics
Protons
http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/particles/proton.html

[3] University of California Davis-ChemWiki
Chemistry of Helium
http://chemwiki.ucdavis.edu/Inorganic_Chemistry/Descriptive_Chemistry/Main_Group_Elements/Group_18%3A_The_Noble_Gases/Chemistry_of_Helium

Los Alamos National Laboratory
Periodic Table of Elements: Helium
http://periodic.lanl.gov/2.shtml

NIST
Periodic Table of the Elements
http://www.nist.gov/pml/data/periodic.cfm

Glossary of Terms

 

Atomic Number: In chemistry and physics, the atomic number (also known as the proton number) is the number of protons found in the nucleus of an atom and therefore identical to the charge number of the nucleus.
Wikipedia

Electron: A stable subatomic particle in the lepton family having a rest mass of 9.1066 × 10-28 grams and a unit negative electric charge of approximately 1.602 × 10-19 coulombs.
The American Heritage Dictionary

Neutron: n uncharged elementary particle that has a mass nearly equal to that of the proton and is present in all known atomic nuclei except the hydrogen nucleus.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Noble Gas: Any of the six gases helium, neon, argon, krypton, xenon, and radon. Because the outermost electron shell of atoms of these gases is full, they do not react chemically with other substances except under certain special conditions.
The American Heritage Science Dictionary

Nucleus: In Physics, a nucleus refers to the positively-charged center of an atom that usually contains the protons and neutrons.
Biology-Online

Proton: The proton is a subatomic particle with the symbol p or p+ and a positive electric charge of 1 elementary charge.
Wikipedia

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