Which element was discovered on the sun before it was discovered on earth

Which Element Was Discovered On The Sun Before It Was Discovered On Earth?

When we talk of the sun’s elements, most elements found on earth are also found in the sun. The difference is a fraction of the material made up of particular parts -like, the sun is majorly composed of Helium and hydrogen with all the other elements like carbon, oxygen, etc. making up around 2%.

The sun is primarily made of the elements Helium (He) and hydrogen (H). The percentage composition of the sun by mass is 25 percent helium and 75 percent hydrogen. The element helium was present on the sun and discovered much before it was even found that this gas was present on earth. This article delves deeper into the universe and discusses Helium and some of the most interesting facts about the sun. 


It may surprise you that the second most found element in the universe is Helium, and even more surprisingly, this element was discovered on the sun much before scientists on the earth could see it on our planet. 

Pierre-Jules-César Janssen was a French Astronomer who noticed the presence of a yellow line in the spectrum of the sun during his studies about a solar eclipse, he considered complete, in the year 1868. 

Sir Norman Lockyer was another English Astronomer who realized that this yellow line is not likely to be created by any element known to be present during the 19th century. Thus, a new hypothesis was developed, which stated held a new element on the sun responsible for the mysterious yellow emission visible to the scientists. Later, this unknown element was named after Sir Norman Lockyer, Helium.

Some important observations:

A Scottish chemist in 1895 performed a unique experiment with a mineral commonly known to us by the name ‘Clevite.’ This scientist was Sir William Ramsay. The latter gave the Clevite an exposure to mineral acids. He aimed at collecting the created gases. After that, he sent a sample of all the gases he found to Sir William Crookes and Lockyer, who identified the element helium. There were two more chemists known by their names, Per Theodor Cleve and Nils Langlet, who individually became successful in discovering Helium present in Clevite. They did it around the time Ramsay conducted his experiment on Helium. 

Helium is scientifically proven to make up about 0.0005% of the atmosphere of the planet earth. However, this small amount of Helium is not entirely in the earth’s gravitational sphere because it is usually in the space. As a result, we see how it is also found in the sun- no wonder why it is present in the universe in the most massive quantity.  


Significant facts about Helium that you need to know

Helium is an inert gas, and not easily does it combine with other elements. No known compounds contain the element helium. However, there are attempts to produce helium difluoride (HeF2) effectively. Here are some exciting facts about Helium:

What is the estimated Oceanic Abundance of Helium?
  • It is 7×10-6 milligrams per liter. 
What is its Estimated Crustal Abundance?
  • 8×10-3 milligrams per kilogram
What is its Atomic Weight?
  • 4.002602
What is the Melting Point of Helium?
  • 0.95 K (-272.2°C or -458.0°F)


What is the density of Helium?
  • 0.0001785 grams per cubic centimeter


What is its phase at Room Temperature?
  • Gaseous phase
What is its group number?
  • The group number is 18.
What is the period number of Helium?
  • The periodic number is 1.
What is its group name?
  • Noble Gas

Other facts about Helium:

Atomic Number of Helium: 2 

Stable Isotopes of the sun present: 2

Boiling Point: 4.22 K (-268.93°C or -452.07°F)

Element Classification: Non-metal

One of Helium’s name’s most exciting things is Greek origin and comes from the Greek God of Sun, Helios. 


Some Interesting facts about the sun 

The quest for ‘What is it that makes the sun so unique?’ is natural. One can shortlist many reasons for the same as they do for our planet earth and all the other planets that circumambulate the sun. Nevertheless, the sun is an ever-attractive source when it comes to an inquisition. We all know that the sun has held the solar system together for ages and will continue to do so. The sun lies in the center of, and all the planets circumambulate it. Sun is also essential to us because it provides light, energy, and heat that gives us life. One primary specialty is that it generates space weather. 

First up, let’s see how Helium is produced on the sun through Nuclear Fusion that takes place on the sun. Hydrogen gas is being converted into Helium through nuclear fusion in the core of the sun. It has been astronomically proved that if four hydrogen atoms are fused, one helium atom is obtained. There is about 25% Helium present in the sun. 

What happens to the helium present in the sun?

Interesting questions arise when we read about all the scientific evidence relating to the environment and the universe. 

One significant phenomenon that happens to Helium is that the sun’s survival depends on hydrogen atoms’ burning, creating helium atoms at its innermost core. The nuclear fission reaction occurs because of the saturation of the sun’s core with Helium gas. It means that the sun spits out more energy making it a hot ball of an energy-producing star. It also makes the sunlight through a similar process, releasing vast amounts of energy. The sun then spreads this energy produced through nuclear fusion in all directions of the space. Of this radiation, a part travels to our planet earth in the necessary light and heat. The sunlight, thus reaching the earth, is one of the most significant sources of life on our planet. 

What sound does the sun produce when it burns? Or does it even produce any sound? 

Yes, it does produce a sound when it burns. According to NASA scientists, the sun creates a sound similar to a bell ringing. But we can’t hear it unless we are close to it and so NASA’s study provides an audio file that does make the sound that the sun produces audible. 

The sun will consume the earth: How real is the theory?

It is believed that the sun will continuously burn for about 130 million years and after it burns all of its hydrogens, instead of burning Helium. In due course of time, the sun will expand to an incredibly massive size. It will then be capable of engulfing planets like Venus, Earth, and Mercury. When this time comes, the sun would have become a massive red star. After the sun completes its red giant phase, astronomers and scientists believe that the sun will collapse. The enormous mass of this big star will be there; nevertheless, the sun will have a volume that can be likened to our earth. When this happens, an entirely different condition will occur, and the scientists give the term White Dwarf to this sun. 


To conclude, we’ve read about the sun and Helium. We know for sure that Helium is very light, making it one of the significant elements that keeps the sun burning. While on earth, it is used to fill airships, balloons, and bumps because it is incredibly light compared to air. The best part is Helium is among the safest gas in the environment because of its inertness with chemicals. This gas is also helpful in detecting leaks, for instance, in the air-conditioning systems present in a car. Some very unique properties of Helium are its low density, boiling point, and solubility. Some other specifications include its inertness under all conditions and high thermal conductivity. One can, therefore, use Helium for any application, whatsoever, which is likely to exploit the mentioned properties. 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *