The Origin and Abundance of Matter in the Universe

Classified in Physics

Written at on English with a size of 2.5 KB.

What is Matter?

Matter is the ‘element’ from which everything is made. It is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume.

Where Does Matter Come From?

A billionth of a second after the Big Bang, an important part of the symmetry of the universe was broken. Known as electroweak symmetry breaking, this was the moment when subatomic particles acquired mass for the first time.

What Processes Lead to the Creation of Matter?

A billionth of a second after the Big Bang, electroweak symmetry breaking occurred, and subatomic particles acquired mass for the first time. Among these particles were quarks. As the universe cooled, these quarks combined to form larger, more complex structures: protons and neutrons. Way before the universe was a minute old, the quarks had been locked away inside the protons and neutrons, becoming the building blocks of all atomic nuclei and, consequently, the building blocks of the elements. Just a few seconds after the beginning of the universe, the fundamental building blocks of everything had been created.

What is the Relationship Between Stars and the Elements?

Stars, like our sun, are the only places in the universe hot and dense enough to fuse atoms together, creating elements. This process is called nuclear fusion. Even within a star, only a fraction reaches the extreme temperatures necessary for fusion. The sun's surface is 6,000 Celsius, not nearly hot enough to power fusion. However, deep below, where the temperature reaches 15 million degrees, the sun fuses hydrogen into helium at a furious rate, burning 600 million tons of hydrogen every second. This process releases the immense heat and light that sustain life on Earth. It is this conversion of one element into another that allows us to exist.

Why Are Some Elements More Abundant Than Others?

The energy required for nuclear fusion increases with the element's atomic number. Creating substantial amounts of the heaviest elements requires some of the rarest conditions in the universe, found only in the distant reaches of space.

Which Star in Our Galaxy is Most Likely to Go Supernova?

The star most likely to go supernova in our galaxy is Betelgeuse, located in the constellation Orion.

When Was the Last Supernova in Our Galaxy, and Why Are We Overdue for Another?

The last supernova in our galaxy occurred in 1604. Astronomers estimate that a galaxy should experience one supernova every century, making us overdue for another.

Entradas relacionadas: