Imagine the Universe!
Cosmic Abundances

Cosmic Abundances
(By James Lochner, USRA/NASA/GSFC, Greenbelt, MD)

This activity provides practice for reading and interpreting the log plot of solar system elemental abundances.

  1. Refer to the chart of the solar system abundances (Figure 7).

    From the plot, determine the abundances of the following elements:

    1. Hydrogen

    2. Helium

    3. Aluminum

    4. Gold

    5. How much more hydrogen is there in the solar system than helium?

  2. 6. How much more hydrogen is there than aluminum?

    7. How much more hydrogen is there than gold?

  3. Below is a table of the various processes in the universe that create elements. Also listed are the combined abundances (relative to hydrogen) of that particular groups of elements.

    ProcessPredominant elementsCombined
    Big Bang H, He 1.10 x 1012
    Small Stars C,N,O 1.19 x 109
    Large Stars other elements with atomic
    numbers up through Fe
    2.56 x 108
    Supernovae elements with atomic numbers
    above Fe
    1.94 x 106
    Cosmic Rays Li, Be, B 2.68 x 103

    What are ways to illustrate or plot these data?

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