by Carson

Hydrogen is the lightest element in the Universe. It is also very common in our lives.

Hydrogen in the periodic table

Hydrogen is the first element in the Universe and it is in row 1 and group 1. Unlike the rest of its group that are alkali metals, it is a gas and is a poor conductor. However, in extreme pressures, the element can be a metal and is good at conducting electricity. That’s what makes Jupiter and Saturn’s powerful magnetic field.

If it loses or gains an electron, it is stable. So, it is quite active and hydrogen compounds are everywhere. For instance, it is present in water, whose formula is H2O. Also, well-known gases like methane (CH4) and ammonia (NH3) contain hydrogen too. Because of its activity, it usually comes in pairs (H2).

Physical properties

Hydrogen is the lightest element in the Universe, weighing only 1.008 standard atomic weights. It accounts for 75% of the entire Universe as it is largely produced in the big bang.

It has 7 isotopes, while only 3 are in nature. Normal hydrogen is stable, and its nucleus is a proton. Deuterium (2H) is also stable with a proton and a neutron at its centre. Rare amounts of tritium (3H), which is radioactive, is natural. It has a half-life of about 12 years, meaning it is short-lived in atomic terms. However, 4 isotopes of hydrogen are made by particle collisions.

It is also gaseous even in temperatures near absolute zero. It melts at -259 degrees and vaporizes at -253. Hydrogen only has one electron at its only layer and it is an odourless, colourless and flammable gas. That means it is invisible but it can burn up at a low temperature. But we don’t need to worry about it because it is so light that it immediately floats into space if released.

Hydrogen compounds usually are ionic, and that means it is acidic. For example, sulfuric acid (H2SO4), nitric acid (HNO3) and carbonic acid (H2CO3) all contains hydrogen ions and are all acids.

The importance of hydrogen

Hydrogen is the fuel of all stars in the Universe. Without it, it cannot ignite the cosmos at all. This is due to a process of nuclear fusion, which hydrogen is the most abundant and the easiest to fuse but it still needs millions of degrees. When it fuses, 2 atoms crash together at an enormous energy level that they can ignore the force pulling them apart. That produces a lot of energy in the form of heat and light.

Also, hydrogen accounts for most of our bodies as water. No hydrogen means no water, and we won’t survive. And look at all the stuff we use, they all have hydrogen atoms, whatever as water, plastic or other complex things.

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