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Secondary V • 4mo.

How is a sub-orbital is different from an orbital?


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Explanations (2)

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    Postsecondary • 12h

    Hi RedFlamingo2804,

    As your question is flagged as a chemistry question, I’ll assume you’re referring to the atomic orbitals. If this is not the case, I’ll kindly ask you to disregard this post as it might make you more confused as you might not have all the tools right now to understand the concept of atomic orbitals (sorry if it’s the case hihi).

    An orbital is an area around the nucleus where the probability of finding electrons (e-) is 90%. Quantum numbers are used to describe these orbitals (principal or shell, angular momentum or subshell, magnetic and spin).

    I think that what you mean by “suborbital" is rather the subshell, which defines the shape of an orbital. Basically, there are different shape an orbital can take. They are often denoted as s,p,d or f. The following picture might help you have a better idea of what this could look like.


    I am currently studying in natural sciences in cegep and orbital theory was a very interesting part of the General Chemistry course (NYA). If, like your profile says, you’re still in secondary 5, this might be a little confusing, but trust me, once you’ll have a lot more tools in your toolbox, you’ll understand orbitals better. It is a difficult concept to grasp at first as it is not something that we can see with our naked eye nor that our brain can fully process. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it is an abstract concept and that you shouldn’t get discourage if you don’t understand at first. Learning takes time! Hope this helps a bit, if ever you are interested in learning more on orbitals, this link is really pertinent:

    Take care,


  • Explanation from Alloprof

    Explanation from Alloprof

    This Explanation was submitted by a member of the Alloprof team.

    Team Alloprof • 4mo.

    Hi :)

    Sub-orbital trajectories involve brief journeys into space without completing a full orbit, following a ballistic path with a rapid return. In contrast, orbital trajectories require achieving sufficient velocity to maintain a stable orbit around a celestial body, enabling continuous, curved motion. Sub-orbital flights are often for purposes like space tourism, while orbital flights are essential for activities like satellite deployment and interplanetary exploration.

    Thanks for your question :) See you soon :D

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