Concept

Chemical element

Summary
A chemical element is a chemical substance that cannot be broken down into other substances. The basic particle that constitutes a chemical element is the atom, and each chemical element is distinguished by the number of protons in the nuclei of its atoms, known as its atomic number. For example, oxygen has an atomic number of 8, meaning that each oxygen atom has 8 protons in its nucleus. This is in contrast to chemical compounds and mixtures, which contain atoms with more than one atomic number. Almost all of the baryonic matter of the universe is composed of chemical elements (among rare exceptions are neutron stars). When different elements undergo chemical reactions, atoms are rearranged into new compounds held together by chemical bonds. Only a minority of elements, such as silver and gold, are found uncombined as relatively pure native element minerals. Nearly all other naturally occurring elements occur in the Earth as compounds or mixtures. Air is primarily a mixture of th
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