What is the Sun made of?

The Sun is made up of extremely hot gaseous elements, primarily hydrogen and helium. There are also small amounts of oxygen, nitrogen, carbon, neon, iron, silicon, and magnesium. Because it is so heavy, the Sun produces an extremely strong gravitational pull which leads to very high pressures and temperatures, especially near the Sun’s core (roughly 27 million degrees Fahrenheit, or 15 million degrees Celsius). These extreme conditions can cause two hydrogen atoms to undergo fusion (see “Nuclear Chemistry”) to create a helium atom. The other two parts of the Sun are the radiative layer (the middle layer) and the convective layer (the outermost layer).

Below is a table listing the relative abundance of elements in the Sun. In total there are at least sixty-seven elements that have been identified as being present in the Sun— this table lists the ten most abundant ones.

Element % of Atoms % of Total Mass
Hydrogen 91.2 71.0
Helium 8.7 27.1
Oxygen 0.078 0.97
Carbon 0.043 0.40
Nitrogen 0.0088 0.096
Silicon 0.0045 0.099
Magnesium 0.0038 0.076
Neon 0.0035 0.058
Iron 0.030 0.014
Sulfur 0.015 0.04


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