Q:

What are the elements named after objects in outer space?

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Quick Answer

Elements named after objects in outer space are neptunium, helium, plutonium and selenium. Uranium is also an element named after an object in outer space.

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Full Answer

Neptunium is a radioactive, silvery metal with the atomic number 93. It is a synthetic element and was the first element beyond uranium to be synthesized. It was named after the planet Neptune.

Helium is the second lightest gas and has the atomic number 2. Because it is so light, it can escape the Earth's gravitational pull and so is rare on Earth. It was found on the sun, and was named after "helios," the Greek name for the sun.

Plutonium is another transuranic element and was named after the planet Pluto. It was created in 1940 through the bombardment of uranium by deuterons. It's a silvery white metal whose most important isotope is Pu 239.

Selenium is not only an element but a nutrient that the human body needs in trace amounts. Its atomic number is 34. Selenium is not a metal but has a gray luster that looks metallic. Though it can be found as a free element, selenium is usually a byproduct of copper mining. Selenium was named after the moon.

Uranium, with an atomic number of 92, was named after the planet Uranus.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    How is plutonium made?

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    Plutonium is made through the fission, or splitting, of uranium atoms. During this process, some uranium-238 isotopes gain a neutron given off by the split atoms, forming new uranium-239 isotopes that eventually turn into plutonium-239 as they decay.

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  • Q:

    Where does plutonium come from?

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    Plutonium naturally forms in the heart of a star undergoing supernova, along with virtually all of the heavy elements in the universe. It is not found on Earth due to its instability. The most stable isotope of naturally occurring plutonium has a half-life of only 82,000,000 years and is exhausted well before it can be taken up in planetary formation. However, humans have been able to artificially create plutonium.

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  • Q:

    What are the uses of plutonium?

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    Plutonium is one of the major elements historically employed in the development of nuclear weapons. It is the key fissile material in most modern nuclear arms, with 1 kilogram of the specific plutonium isotope P-239 equivalent upon detonation to 10,000 tons of conventional explosive.

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  • Q:

    What are some interesting facts about selenium?

    A:

    One interesting fact about selenium is that it is named after selene, the Greek word for moon. Jons Jakob Berzellius named it after the moon because the element shared similar characteristics with tellurium, another element named after the Earth.

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