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According to molecular theory when 2 atomic orbitals combine, 2 molecular orbitals will be created. So if the electrons are in the bonding orbital will the antibonding orbital exist and just be empy? But that doesn't make sense, I mean orbitals are just a measure of space and energy of the electrons. If there is no electron in an orbital then that orbital exists just in theory right?

Wouldn't it be more right to say that when two atomic orbitals combine they form either a bonding orbital or an antibonding one and the electrons are found in either one of them respectively?

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    $\begingroup$ All orbitals exist just in theory. $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Mar 7, 2023 at 23:55

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Molecular orbitals are solutions of the Schrödinger time independent equation for a molecule. Some of these solutions lower the energy of the molecule (bonding molecular orbitals) and some raise the energy of the molecule (antibonding molecular orbitals).

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