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The strong force keeps also the protons together in the nucleus, despite their mutual electrostatic repulsion.
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The Nuclear Force

The protons in the nucleus of an atom are positively charged. If protons interact, they are usually pushed apart by the electromagnetic force. (Remember, opposite charges attract, but like charges repel!). However, when two or more nuclei come VERY close together, the nuclear force comes into play. The nuclear force is a hundred times stronger than the electromagnetic force so the nuclear force may be able to "glue" the nuclei together so fusion can happen.

The nuclear force is also known as the strong force. This is one of the four fundamental forces in the Universe.

The nuclear force keeps together the most basic of elementary particles, the quarks. Quarks combine together to form the protons and neutrons in the atomic nucleus.


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Nuclear fusion is a process where two or more nuclei combine to form an element with a higher atomic number (more protons in the nucleus). Fusion is the reverse process of nuclear fission. Fusion reactions...more

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA