# What does the number of orbitals in a subshell represent? [closed]

s subshell has 1 orbital and p subshell has 3 orbitals. Does that mean that there is a high probability that the electron is in the p subshell? As orbital are the space where there is a high probability of finding electrons.

## closed as unclear what you're asking by Mithoron, Jon Custer, Todd Minehardt, Mathew Mahindaratne, airhuffJun 17 at 1:22

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Number of orbitals does not have direct relation to either probability of electrons occupying them, either the space they are describing.

The related probabibility is to be understood as:

IF the electron is in the quantum state, belonging to the particular orbital, THEN the wave function of the orbital describes spatial distribution of the electron occurence probability, what is geometrically illustrated by the orbital 3D shape.

Longer answer There are 3 meanings of the term orbital:

1. A complex wave function $$\Psi$$ being a particular solution of the quantum wave equation
2. A quantum state of an electron, following 1., described by particular quantum numbers $$n$$, $$l$$ and $$m$$, representing discrete values of electron energy, orbital angular momentum and one of component of angular momentum, respectively.
3. 3D shape, following 1. and 2., representing statistical probability of the electron presence at given point by$$\Psi^2$$, determined by the conventional value by residual external probability and by the isoprobability surface.

If there is 1 orbital 2s and 3 orbitals 2p, it means,
for $$n=2$$ and $$l=0$$, there is 1 value $$m=0$$. But for $$n=2$$ and $$l=1$$, there are 3 values $$m=-1,0,+1$$

Electrons are fermions with half integer 4th spin quantum number $$m_s$$, and every electron in the atom must have unique set of quantum numbers.

Therefore there can be 2 electrons in the orbital 2s, having $$n=2$$, $$l=0$$.

But there can be up to 6 electrons in 3 2p orbitals, having $$n=2$$, $$l=1$$.

• Good answer, but I have a feeling this explanation is not suitable for OP's level. – electronpusher Jun 13 at 7:26
• You are right, I sometime let the topic to lead myself too far. – Poutnik Jun 13 at 7:51