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Why are p-orbitals called degenerate orbitals?

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rocky.goyal | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted February 21, 2013 at 5:38 PM via web

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Why are p-orbitals called degenerate orbitals?

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ncchemist | eNotes Employee

Posted February 21, 2013 at 6:24 PM (Answer #1)

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Electron orbitals that have the same energy level are said to be degenerate orbitals.  Since p orbitals have an azimuthal quantum number of 1, this means that there are three different p orbitals available for electrons (-1,0,+1).  These three p orbitals are degenerate, meaning they all have exactly the same energy value.  This is important to know when assigning electrons to orbitals because the p orbitals are all filled completely with a total of 6 electrons before moving on to higher energy orbitals.  The filling up of electron orbitals from lowest energy to highest energy is the reasoning behind the Aufbau principle.


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