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I'm having a bit of trouble visualizing this concept. I don't know if I have the right idea, but this is how I see it so far. When an electron moves from, let's say, a 2s orbital to a 2p orbital, does the electron actually move in a pattern consistent with the p-orbital dumbbell shape? In other words, does the electron's path of movement actually change when excited by a photon? Does a higher level of energy correspond to a more complex movement and therefore a more complex probability density like in an f-orbital?
When thinking about how particles behave at an atomic level, we have to think about them differently than how we are use to. Electrons traveling it set paths, like planets orbiting around the sun, as it turns out isn't a very accurate model of how electrons behave. This has to do with the wave-particle duality of an electron and Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. There is only a certain probability of an electron existing at a point in space at a given moment in time. The orbitals represents areas of high probability of finding an electron. As the energy of the electron increases, the areas where the electron is likely to be located change as well. Your thinking isn't too far off, you just need to become more comfortable with the idea of the electron existing as a probability, not in a certain trajectory.
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