Does the rotation of the electron around the hydrogen nucleus cause a resultant magnetic field in the atom? If so, the current density must be very high and the resulting field should affect the stability of the atom. How is this field counteracted so that the atom remains stable?


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    $\begingroup$ The answer is mostly "yes there can be a field", but you need to stop thinking of the electron as zooming around the nucleus; it simply doesn't do that. It exists in a state and has at all times both a position distribution and a momentum distribution. Orbitals are decidedly not orbits. $\endgroup$ – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Sep 29 '13 at 3:22
  • $\begingroup$ If the electron is not orbiting, then what is it doing. What I mean is, it is definitely in motion, and localized in one region or other at different times. Would not this cause a magnetic field to be created? $\endgroup$ – mcodesmart Sep 29 '13 at 4:36
  • $\begingroup$ "it is definitely in motion, and localized in one region or other at different times" No, it's not. These bound states are solutions to the time independent Schrödinger equation; you can measure a spacial distribution for them and you can measure a momentum distribution for them, but that does not imply a well defined position or momentum except when you measure one or the other: this is what it means to say the position and momentum are not good quantum numbers of a bound state. I'll write a few words below. $\endgroup$ – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Sep 29 '13 at 13:07

There is an interaction between the the electron's orbital angular momentum and the magnetic moment of the nucleus. It is called the "hyperfine structure" or "hyperfine splitting".

In the Wikipedia article you will notice that some of the development of the interaction is done using velocity and position, but that the actual computation is made using the orbital angular momentum. This is important because the latter quantity is a good quantum number of the bound states and the former are not.

Observing the hyperfine structure requires a high resolution spectrometer, but it can be done in a bench-top experiment. I believe the we used a Fabry-Pérot interferometer as the core of the instrument we used in my graduate spectroscopy lab.

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