# What is the “shape” of atomic/subatomic particles?

I apologize in advance for my ignorance if this is a question with an obvious answer... I am not experienced in this field. But are such particles in the universe points with a charge, or are they very small spheres with a charge? Or does it not even matter in the end? This isn't homework, it's just curiosity.

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See the excellent answers to my question along the same lines: physics.stackexchange.com/questions/10433/… – recipriversexclusion Sep 27 '11 at 2:14

In the current model used to describe elementary particles, the Standard Model, the particles (leptons, quarks and gauge bosons) are point-like particles. Experimentally no substructure has been observed for either of those particles (e.g. the upper limit for the electron radius is something like $10^{-22}$m). Some particles that were thought to be elementary (but later turned out to be bound states of quarks), like the proton and the neutron, or all baryons and mesons for that matter, actually do have a substructure that can be and has been measured (or at least the charge distribution).

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continuing with @lusken 's answer, the atom is perceived as a fuzzy ball with a highly dense nucleus (mainly point size, compared to the size of the atom itself) and the fuzzy boundary because of the electron cloud.

The electron cloud themselves appear in different probability distribution, which gives different "shapes" to them.

EDIT1: where s is for electron with 0, p for spin 1 and so on d = 2 and f = 3. and each s,p,d,f have different suborbitals which are depicted as in the figure as

1. $s$
2. $p_x$, $p_y$, $p_z$
3. $p_{xy}$, $p_{yz}$, $p_{zx}$, $p_{x^2-y^2}$, $p_{z^2}$
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you should add : depending on the spin of the orbit/energy-level. s is spin 0, p is 1 and d is 2. – anna v Sep 26 '11 at 5:54