The Rutherford model served to concentrate a great deal of the atom's charge and mass to a very small core, but didn't attribute any structure to the remaining electrons and remaining atomic mass. It did mention the atomic model of Hantaro Nagaoka, in which the electrons are arranged in one or more rings, with the specific metaphorical structure of the stable rings of Saturn. The so-called plum pudding model of J.J. Thomson had also had rings of orbiting electrons.

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The New Model for the Atom 

 In 1911, Rutherford came forth with his own physical model for subatomic structure, as an interpretation for the unexpected experimental results. In it, the atom is made up of a central charge (this is the modern atomic nucleus, though Rutherford did not use the term "nucleus" in his paper) surrounded by a cloud of (presumably) orbiting electrons. In this May 1911 paper, Rutherford only commits himself to a small central region of very high positive or negative charge in the atom.

"For concreteness, consider the passage of a high speed α particle through an atom having a positive central charge N e, and surrounded by a compensating charge of N electrons."

   From purely energetic considerations of how far alpha particles of known speed would be able to penetrate toward a central charge of 100 e, Rutherford was able to calculate that the radius of his gold central charge would need to be less (how much less could not be told) than 3.4 x 10−14 meters (the modern value is only about a fifth of this). This was in a gold atom known to be 10−10 meters or so in radius—a very surprising finding, as it implied a strong central charge less than 1/3000th of the diameter of the atom.