Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe. But what makes it so? At the time of big bang, what made certain elements more abundant than the others?

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I don't find this order of abundance too predictable. What makes neon more abundant than nitrogen?

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Most of those elements were not created by the big bang, but later by nuclear reaction within stars. $\endgroup$
    – airhuff
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 4:55
  • $\begingroup$ because those elements are easier to make $\endgroup$
    – njzk2
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 15:29
  • $\begingroup$ This can be considered borderline off-topic and is probably already answered in much better way on Physics and Astronomy.SE $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 17:39

1 Answer 1



After few minutes of creation of the universe, protons and neutrons began to react with each other to form deuterium, an isotope of hydrogen. Deuterium, soon collected another neutron to form tritium. Rapidly following this reaction was the addition of another proton which produced a helium nucleus.

Sources say that there was one helium nucleus for every ten protons within the first three minutes of the universe. After further cooling, these excess protons would be able to capture an electron to create common hydrogen. Consequently, the universe today is observed to contain one helium atom for every ten or eleven atoms of hydrogen.


The star in its first stage is powered by a series of nuclear fusion reactions that convert hydrogen to helium. The overall reaction is the conversion of four hydrogen nuclei to a helium-4 nucleus, which is accompanied by the release of two positrons, two γ rays, and a great amount of energy. It then takes several billion years, depending on the size of the star, to convert about 10% of the hydrogen to helium. Once large amounts of helium-4 have been formed, they become concentrated in the core of the star, which slowly becomes denser and hotter. The after reaching high temperature the helium-4 nuclei begin to fuse, producing beryllium-8.

The neon production:

Beryllium-8 has low neutron-to-proton ratio makes it very unstable. So it reacts with a third helium-4 nucleus to form neon, magnesium and carbon. Neon production doesnt stop here. Again from the reaction of carbon with helium-4 to initiate a series of reactions, neon, oxygen and some more elements are produced. So in the stages of stars, neon is produced multiple times in huge amounts making it one of the abundant element in the universe.

  • $\begingroup$ Could you please see the edits? $\endgroup$
    – Arishta
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 4:14
  • $\begingroup$ I think this is a very good answer to the original question, that was then drastically altered to include 10 specific elements rather than 1, of course including elements that were not produced only by the big bang, as was specified in the original question. +1 for the answer to the original question. $\endgroup$
    – airhuff
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 4:52
  • $\begingroup$ I have added few points on neon being abundant in universe. $\endgroup$
    – Yb609
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 5:15
  • $\begingroup$ I think the abundance chart of en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nucleosynthesis might make a nice addition here, seeing how strong the number of protons being odd or even is influencing the nucleosynthesis. $\endgroup$
    – PlasmaHH
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 11:10
  • $\begingroup$ OT: when I read "Sources say that there was ..." I thought for a moment that there were some written records of this :-D $\endgroup$
    – frarugi87
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 11:30

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