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Are all Elements Abundant?

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The abundance of elements in the universe and on earth is a measure of how much in terms of mass or percentage of that element is naturally occurring. Some elements in the universe such as hydrogen and helium, very basic elements make up large amounts of matter in the universe. Where as rare elements like francium and caesium are much less abundant and rare.

As seen previously elements were created in the big bang but not all elements were created the same. After the big bang neutrons, protons and electrons were created and as the universe cooled down the first elements formed were hydrogen and helium, being small and light and only consisting of a small number of protons, neutrons and electrons. All stars in the universe are known to run on the nuclear fission reaction of colliding hydrogen atoms together to form helium. It was not until the universe began to cool as it got older that these atoms combined into heavier elements. This lead to the abundance (amount of) elements in the universe being different. Not all elements are as common as each other. A lot of elements with low atomic numbers such as Hydrogen, Nitrogen, and Iron as very abundant throughout the universe.


Whilst elements are abundant in the universe their abundance  in the earths crust differs. Most metals exist in the earth’s crust as ores. Ores are compounds of metals bonded to other elements. For example, Iron is found in the ore Haematite bonded to oxygen. This means very often we have to industrially separate them to obtain the pure element. Other elements such as Nitrogen exists in the atmosphere and makes up 78% of the air we breathe in. This is because the first 26 elements in the periodic table formed early in the history of the universe. Formed in stars from nuclear fusion they became the most abundant elements in the universe and make up the majority of planets and matter. More rare elements with higher Atomic Numbers such as Gold and Silver whilst unreactive are found in the earth’s crust but are far rarer and need careful mining and extraction. Similarly, elements such as Uranium are radioactive and begin to break down as they are unstable so they are hard to extract and prevent from breaking down.


Terms in section
Element

Elements are atoms with the same number of protons in the nucleus

Proton

A proton is a positive particle that makes up the atom in the nucleus with a positive charge

Neutron

A neutron is a neutral sub atomic particle that makes up the nucleus with the proton

Electron

The electron is the smallest sub atomic particle that make up the atom. Has a negative charge and is located in shells that orbit the nucleus

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