The nucleus is the very dense region consisting of protons and neutrons at the center of an atom. It was discovered in 1911, as a result of Ernest Rutherford's interpretation of the famous 1909 Rutherford experiment performed by Hans Geiger and Ernest Marsden, under the direction of Rutherford. The proton–neutron model of nucleus was proposed by Dmitry Ivanenko in 1932. Almost all of the mass of an atom is located in the nucleus, with a very small contribution from the orbiting electrons.
The diameter of the nucleus is in the range of 1.75 fm (femtometre) (1.75×10−15 m) for hydrogen (the diameter of a single proton) to about 15 fm for the heaviest atoms, such as uranium. These dimensions are much smaller than the diameter of the atom itself (nucleus + electron cloud), by a factor of about 23,000 (uranium) to about 145,000 (hydrogen).
The branch of physics concerned with studying and understanding the atomic nucleus, including its composition and the forces which bind it together, is called nuclear physics.