The large majority of an atom’s mass comes from the protons and neutrons that make it up. The total number of these particles (called “nucleons”) in a given atom is called the mass number. The mass number is a simple whole number, and has units of “nucleons.” An example of use of a mass number is “carbon-12,” which has 12 nucleons (six protons and six neutrons).
The actual mass of an atom at rest is often expressed using the unified atomic mass unit (u), which is also called a dalton (Da). This unit is defined as a twelfth of the mass of a free neutral atom of carbon-12, which is approximately 1.66×10−27 kg. Hydrogen-1, the lightest isotope of hydrogen and the atom with the lowest mass, has an atomic weight of 1.007825 u. The value of this number is called the atomic mass. A given atom has an atomic mass approximately equal (within 1%) to its mass number times the mass of the atomic mass unit. However, this number will not be an exact whole number except in the case of carbon-12 (see below) The heaviest stable atom is lead-208, with a mass of 207.9766521 u.
As even the most massive atoms are far too light to work with directly, chemists instead use the unit of moles. One mole of atoms of any element always has the same number of atoms (about 6.022×1023). This number was chosen so that if an element has an atomic mass of 1 u, a mole of atoms of that element has a mass close to one gram. Because of the definition of the unified atomic mass unit, each carbon-12 atom has an atomic mass of exactly 12 u, and so a mole of carbon-12 atoms weighs exactly 0.012 kg.