History of the Universe

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Helium Atom

A helium atom has two protons in its nucleus and two electrons around it. Helium nuclei were created during the Big Bang and so are some of the oldest and commonest objects in the Universe. About one quarter of the mass of the Universe is made up of helium atoms!

As we explain in the shell model of the atom, these two electrons fill the space around the atom so no other electrons can enter it.

If a helium atom meets any other kind of atom, it bounces away. The atom behaves as if it has a very hard shell around it. Atoms like this are called noble gases.

Helium has some very unusual properties when it is very cold. It can flow up the walls of containers and escape. It can conduct heat and electricity with almost no resistance, making it a superconductor.

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History of the Universe eBook
History of the Universe eBook
Only £5.99

Written by Wyken Seagrave
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