Building Blocks of Matter

Type of matter molecule atom subatomic particle

Built from atoms subatomic particles fundamental particles


CH , a methane molecule, is built from

four hydrogen atoms and one carbon atom

H, a hydrogen atom, is built from one electron and one proton (the variety called deuterium also contains a neutron)

a proton is built from two "up" quarks and one "down" quark tron consists of two down quarks and an up quark (quarks have fractional charges of one-third or two-thirds of the basic charge of the electron or proton).

The electrons that orbit atomic nuclei are a type of lepton. Like quarks, there are six types of leptons. The most familiar lepton is the electron. The other five are the muon, the tau particle, and the three types of neutrino associated with each: the electron neutrino, the muon neutrino, and the tau neutrino. Neutrinos are made in the Sun and flow outward from the Sun continuously and in great numbers. They are almost massless and actually pass through matter without interacting with it. Exiting at great speeds from the Sun, they pass through the planets and everything on them, including people, all the time.

The following is a brief list of glossary terms on this topic: electron A lepton; the least massive electrically charged particle, hence is absolutely stable fundamental particle A particle with no internal substructure; quarks, leptons, photons, gluons, and bosons are fundamental; all other objects are made from these, including protons and neutrons lepton A category of fundamental particles; the electrically charged leptons are the electron, the muon, the tau, and their antiparticles; electrically neutral leptons are called neutrinos neutrino A lepton with no electric charge; neutrinos participate only in weak and gravitational interactions and are therefore very difficult to detect; there are three known types of neutrinos, all of which are very light and could possibly have zero mass neutron A subatomic particle with no electric charge, made of two down quarks and one up quark (held together by gluons); the neutral component of an atomic nucleus is made from neutrons; different isotopes of the same element are distinguished by having different numbers of neutrons in their nucleus photon The fundamental particle that is the carrier particle of electromagnetic radiation proton The most common subatomic particle, with electric charge of +1; protons are made of two up quarks and one down quark, bound together by gluons; the nucleus of a hydrogen atom is a proton. A nucleus with atomic number Z contains Z protons; therefore the number of protons is what distinguishes the different chemical elements positron The antiparticle of the electron quark A category of fundamental particles; quarks combine in groups to make subatomic particles such as protons and neutrons; the six quarks are named truth, beauty, charm, strange, up, and down subatomic particle A particle used to make atoms; is itself made of fundamental particles

The Sun consists of a number this zone. Above the radiative zone is the convective zone, where the of distinct layers, with radiation works to heat the Sun's matter, and it boils like water in a differing temperatures and pot. Finally, above the convective zone is the thin layer called the pho-convection patterns. tosphere, from which visible light is radiated and which viewers think of as the surface of the Sun as seen from Earth. The layers of the Sun are shown in the figure above.

Though the Sun appears as a discrete disc in the sky, a spherical, separate object like a planet, it is actually a continuous body through the entire solar system. The Sun is not as dense as Earth's air until depths 10 percent below the photosphere (the surface that is seen in visible light). Outside the photosphere, which appears to be the edge of the Sun because it is the only solar structure that is seen in visible light, are the transition zone, the corona, and the solar wind.The solar wind is a continual, pulsating wave of particles and radiation sent out from the Sun that permeates all the space between the planets and continues past the orbits of the most distant solar system objects until it collides with the radiation of interstellar space.The Sun sends a billion kilograms of electrons and protons into space each second, and these form the solar wind.Though the solar wind is very sparse, it is a major force in solar system space, and the Sun might be thought of more accurately as filling the entire solar system, with the orbiting planets embedded within it. (The space in the solar system is actually filled with three things: the matter of the solar wind, the radiation from the Sun, and interstellar cosmic rays, which constantly shoot through all the space and matter in the solar system, on paths from the distant star systems that created them.)

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