Chemistry » Essential Ideas in Chemistry » Models Of The Atom

Rutherford’s Model of the Atom

Ernest Rutherford, 1st Baron Rutherford of Nelson, OM, FRS was a New Zealand-born British physicist who came to be known as the father of nuclear physics.


New Zealand chemist and Nobel Prize laureate Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937). Image credit: public domain

Rutherford’s Model of the Atom

Rutherford carried out some experiments which led to a change in ideas around the atom. His new model described the atom as a tiny, dense, positively charged core called a nucleus surrounded by lighter, negatively charged electrons. Another way of thinking about this model was that the atom was seen to be like a mini solar system where the electrons orbit the nucleus like planets orbiting around the sun. A simplified picture of this is shown alongside. This model is sometimes known as the planetary model of the atom.


Rutherford’s model of the atom.

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