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mass number |
The total number of protons and neutrons in the nucleus of an atom. For example, nitrogen has 7 protons and 7 neutrons in its nucleus, giving it a mass number of 14. Isotopes of elements are distinguished by their mass number; for example, carbon-12 and carbon-14 have mass numbers of 12 and 14 respectively. Also called nucleon number. Compare atomic mass, atomic weight.
in nuclear physics, the sum of the numbers of protons and neutrons present in the nucleus of an atom. The mass number is commonly cited in distinguishing among the isotopes of an element, all of which have the same atomic number (number of protons) and are represented by the same literal symbol; for example, the two best known isotopes of uranium (those with mass numbers 235 and 238) are designated uranium-235 (symbolized 235U) and uranium-238 (238U).