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What is the atomic number and what does it tell you about the number of protons in an atom?


The number of protons in an atom is the atomic number. The number of protons is equal to the atomic number of an atom. It is very important in knowing the number of electrons that surround the nucleus of an atom. In an atom, the electrical charge is neutral, due to the equal number of positive (protons) and negative (electrons) charges. The atomic number represents the protons in an atom and identifies the element. Hydrogen has one proton. No other atom has just one proton. Helium has two protons and no other element has only two protons. Lithium has three protons and so on.

The atomic number is equal to the number of protons in the nucleus, and for neutral atoms, it is the same as the number of electrons.

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