United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment


The small, central, positively charged region of an atom. Except for the nucleus of ordinary hydrogen, which has only a proton, all atomic nuclei contain both protons and neutrons. The number of protons determines the total positive charge or atomic number. This number is the same for all the atomic nuclei of a given chemical element. The total number of neutrons and protons is called the mass number.

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Tuesday, June 30, 2020