What is the heaviest element our sun can make?

our sun, not any star, but if you know, throw it in too :)

5 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favourite answer

    Carbon and oxygen through normal nuclear fusion are the heaviest elements the Sun can make through the "triple-alpha" process. A pair of helium nuclei collide to form a beryllium-8 nucleus, which is highly unstable. Before it can break up, another helium nucleus fuses with it, creating a nucleus of carbon-12. Later some of the carbon-12 nuclei capture another helium nucleus, forming a nucleus of oxygen-16. However, there are other pathways for the production of heavy element even is smaller stars like the Sun. One is called the S-process, which is nuclei capturing free neutrons, stabilizing through radioactive decay, then capturing another neutron and so on. Over time small amounts of elements such as cerium and lead are produced even inside a Sun like star. Right now the Sun is powered predominantly by the proton-proton process that converts hydrogen in a three step pathway into helium, but it's not the only source of the Sun's energy. The Carbon-Nitrogen-Oxygen also operates in a minor capacity as well. Put simply, the CNO cycle uses carbon 12 as a catalyst where it absorbs protons and in the process becomes a nucleus of nitrogen then a nucleus of oxygen before a helium nucleus detaches leaving behind a nucleus of carbon-12 again. Over time, it builds up a substantial amount of nitrogen and oxygen in the star.

  • 1 decade ago

    Currently the sun is making Helium through H-fusion.

    There should be a small amount of CNO cycle going on, which has a tough step to get past Nitrogen, so one could argue that it makes Nitrogen and Oxygen in this process, but mostly it gets destroyed again.

    Later in it's life (after the main sequence), the sun will make lots of carbon, but it will also makes small amounts of lots of other heavier elements...

    Heavy elements (those more massive than iron) are all made inside stars - but they do NOT have to be massive stars that supernova

    Neutron capture is the key to building elements heavier than iron.

    Neutrons are neutral and so there is no electrostatic repulsion when trying to add neutrons.

    In a star that goes supernova many neutrons are freed and can be injected into nuclei. This process happens so fast that nuclei become full of neutrons and unstable, so they decay radioactively. The path by which they decay depends on what the element started as and how many neutrons were added - but this process, known and the r-process (rapid process) leads to a certain distribution of isotopes.

    However, it is a myth that lower mass stars, like the sun, cannot build elements heavier than carbon. Inside an aging low mass star neutrons get produced and neutron capture can occur. In this case, the neutron density is much lower, to the process is much slower (s-process). This leads to a different set of isotopes than the r-process!

    These low mass stars lose their newly made elements much more slowly than massive stars and the ejected material is what eventually forms planetary nebulae.

    See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S-process

    and: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R-process

    Source(s): Me - I teach and research this stuff
  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    2 motives truthfully -- a million. there's a great style of hydrogen left for fusion into helium; 2. The middle temperature had to fuse carbon is many circumstances greater than what our sunlight presently generates

  • 1 decade ago

    no no no no no stop coping and pasting answer with your own answers dont take credit for other peoples research........first of all the sun isnt making hydrogen or helium they were elements that were in the nebula that formed our star, the elements that our star makes are the ones that are forced into exsistence through super massive explosions, the hydrogen fushion that you are refering to is the sun spliting the hydrogen atom to create energy, which is called nuclear........its all about einsteins e=mc squared

    Source(s): genius
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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Nitrogen gas. it can also make hydrogen, nitrogen and Lithium

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