The nucleons are bound together in a nucleus and the energy has to be supplied in order to break apart the constituents into free nucleons. The energy with which nucleons are bounded together in a nucleus is called as Binding Energy (B.E.). In order to free nucleons from a bounded nucleus this much of energy (= B.E.) is to be supplied.
It is observed that the mass of a nucleus is always less than the mass of constituent (free) nucleons. This difference in mass is called as mass defect and is denoted as m.
There is another quantity which is very useful in predicting the stability of a nucleus called as Binding energy per nucleons.
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