#1 Hydrogen

Although hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe (constituting about 75% of the universe’s chemical elemental mass), it’s relatively rare on Earth because it is the lightest element; it basically floats away.  Hydrogen does form compounds with most elements and as most people know, it is found in water molecules, and also most organic compounds.

Protium, the most common isotope of hydrogen, has one proton and one electron. Unique among all stable isotopes, it has no neutrons

“Hydrogen gas (now known to be H2) was first artificially produced in the early 16th century, via the mixing of metals with strong acids. In 1766–81,Henry Cavendish was the first to recognize that hydrogen gas was a discrete substance, and that it produces water when burned, a property which later gave it its name, which in Greek means “water-former.”

At standard temperature and pressure, hydrogen is a colorlessodorlessnonmetallic,tasteless, non-toxic, highly combustible diatomic gas with the molecular formula H2. Industrial production is mainly from the steam reforming of natural gas, and less often from more energy-intensive hydrogen production methods like the electrolysis of water. Most hydrogen is employed near its production site, with the two largest uses being fossil fuel processing (e.g.,hydrocracking) and ammonia production, mostly for the fertilizer market.

Hydrogen is a concern in metallurgy as it can embrittle many metals, complicating the design of pipelines and storage tanks.”

NGC 604, a giant region of ionized hydrogen in the Triangulum Galaxy

Hydrogen is found in great abundance in stars and giant gas planets, like Jupiter.

“Throughout the universe, hydrogen is mostly found in the atomic and plasma states whose properties are quite different from molecular hydrogen. As a plasma, hydrogen’s electron and proton are not bound together, resulting in very high electrical conductivity and high emissivity (producing the light from the Sun and other stars). The charged particles are highly influenced by magnetic and electric fields.”

From BBC News:

“The European Southern Observatory gets the new year off to a colourful start with this image of the smoky pink core of the Omega Nebula, 6500 light-years from earth in the constellation Sagittarius.

The image was captured using ESO’s Very Large Telescope and shows the rose tinted heart of this stellar nursery with its newest offspring burning a bright bluish-white. The dominant reddish colour is produced by hydrogen gas glowing in the intense ultraviolet light of these hot young stars.

It was taken with the FORS (focal Reducer and Spectrograph) instrument on Antu, one of the four unit telescopes of the VLT. Exceptionally steady air during the observations has helped to make this one of the sharpest images ever taken from the ground.

Their animated video zooming in on the Omega Nebula is also worth a look.”

Tom FeildenArticle written by Tom FeildenTom FeildenScience correspondent, Today programme
Doesn’t he look cheery and chipper? I’m nervous for him because whatever he’s looking at is about to eat him.

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