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What Is the Element Composition of the Sun?

Solar Chemical Composition


False-Color Ultraviolet Image of the Sun

Image of the sun acquired by the Extreme ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (EIT) at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center July 15, 1999.


You may know the sun consists mainly of hydrogen and helium. Have you ever wondered what about the other elements in the sun? I hunted up a table (source: NASA - Goddard Space Flight Center) listing the sun's elemental composition, which we know from analysis of its spectral signature. I'm sure you're not surprised that hydrogen is the most abundant element. The sun is constantly fusing hydrogen into helium, but don't expect the ratio of hydrogen to helium to change anytime soon. The sun is 4.5 billion years old and has converted about half of the hydrogen in its core into helium. It still has about 5 billion years before the hydrogen runs out.

Elements in the Sun

Element % of total atoms % of total mass
Hydrogen 91.2 71.0
Helium 8.7 27.1
Oxygen 0.078 0.97
Carbon 0.043 0.40
Nitrogen 0.0088 0.096
Silicon 0.0045 0.099
Magnesium 0.0038 0.076
Neon 0.0035 0.058
Iron 0.030 0.014
Sulfur 0.015 0.040

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