ARSCIMED / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ARSCIMED / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Quark structure of the gold nucleus. Computer visualisation of the nucleus of a gold atom. The most common isotope, gold-197, consists of 79 protons and 118 neutrons. These are represented as triplets of quarks surrounded by quantum clouds of gluons. Protons have two "up" quarks (blue) and one "down" quark (red); neutrons have one "up" and two "down". The clouds of virtual gluons are responsible for mediating the strong nuclear force; this holds the quarks together within the particles and also overcomes the electrical repulsion between adjacent protons.
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