Relative abundance of various elements following the Big Bang.
We just saw how most of the universe's hydrogen and helium (and trace amounts of lithium and beryllium) was synthesized after the Big Bang.
) The periodic table chart at the bottom of this page summarizes the processes that have made the various elements in our solar system.
The Big Bang model predicts that nucleosynthesis, the process by which the elements formed, began approximately 100 seconds after the Big Bang.
Driven by the immense temperature and pressure, nuclear fusion reactions converted hydrogen into helium.
As space expanded, temperatures dropped below those required to sustain fusion, and as a result nucleosynthesis only lasted for about three minutes.The synthesized elements are dispersed into the interstellar medium during the planetary nebula or supernova stage (with supernova being the best way to distribute the heavy elements far and wide).These elements will be later incorporated into giant molecular clouds and eventually become part of future stars and planets (and life forms?In chemical reactions, different atoms or combinations of atoms are said to be produced or created when a reaction takes place.For example, in the Earth section of the planets chapter, I said that oxygen was produced in the photosynthesis process of plants.) are made of atoms that were created in the stars.Those atoms are rearranged to produce the vast variety of things around and in you.These reactions created the heavier elements from fusing together lighter elements in the central regions of the stars and through the explosion of white dwarfs or the merging of neutron stars.When the processed material from these processes are thrown back into space, it can be incorporated into gas clouds that will later form stars and planets.Click "Play" to see how heavier elements are synthesized.In the early universe, the right conditions were present only long enough to synthesize two elements: hydrogen and helium.