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Nuclear Physics
Atoms and Atomic Structure
Particle Physics

What is the force that binds protons and neutrons together in a nucleus called?


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January 21, 2012 2:25AM

It is called the Strong Force, specifically the Residual Strong Force. The Fundamental Strong Force is what holds quarks (which make up Protons and Neutrons) together. The Residual Strong Force is mediated by virtual mesons and has an effective range of 10^(-15) Meters and gets significatly weaker beyond this point. This is the diameter of a Lead atom's nucleus- any bigger and it will become unstable, which is why all elements greater than this are radioactive.