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what is the Sun made of?


The Sun is mostly made of hydrogen and helium. In fact, helium was first discovered when its emission lines (fingerprints) were seen in the Sun's spectrum by Sir Norman Lockyer and others, long before it was found on Earth.


These pie charts show what the Sun is made of. The top one shows the proportions of hydrogen and helium. The amount of other elements, such as oxygen, magnesium and iron, is very, very small (less than 0.1%). The second pie chart shows how much of each element there is making up that tiny 0.1%.


By measuring how strong the emission lines from these elements are in the spectrum, I can work out how much of each element there is in the Sun's atmosphere, and find out if it changes from place to place or from time to time.






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