CARLOS CLARIVAN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY CARLOS CLARIVAN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Carbon (C). Diagram of the nuclear composition, electron configuration, chemical data, and valence orbitals of an atom of carbon-12 (atomic number: 6), the most common isotope of the element carbon. The nucleus consists of 6 protons (red) and 6 neutrons (orange). Six electrons (white) occupy available electron shells (rings). The stability of an element's outer (valence) electrons determines its chemical and physical properties. Carbon, which forms the basis of life on Earth, is a non-metal in group 14, period 2, and the p-block of the periodic table. In elemental form, it is a solid that burns when heated with oxygen.
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