At any given moment, an electron can be found at any distance from the nucleus and in any direction according to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. The p orbital is a dumbbell-shaped region describing where an electron can be found, within a certain degree of probability. The shape of the orbital depends on the quantum numbers associated with an energy state.

All p orbitals have l = 1, with three possible values for m (-1, 0, +1).

The wave function is complex when m = 1 or m = -1.

Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "P Orbital." ThoughtCo, Jun. 10, 2015, thoughtco.com/p-orbital-603802.Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2015, June 10). P Orbital. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/p-orbital-603802Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "P Orbital." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/p-orbital-603802 (accessed November 18, 2017).