Gold for Kids - what is gold made of? where does gold come from? why is gold so valuable?
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Gold

Gold bees
Gold jewelry shaped like bees,
from Bronze Age Greece

Gold is a much heavier atom than iron, with 79 protons and 79 electrons in each atom. Gold is too heavy for even red giant stars to make through nuclear fusion. The only way to make gold is when a red giant star explodes in a supernova. When that happens, the tremendously high temperatures of the explosion itself - hundreds of millions of degrees - force the star's atoms to mix together and make gold (and other heavy atoms like uranium).

All of the gold in the universe was made during these supernova explosions. Because it's so hard to make, there's much less gold in the universe than there are lighter atoms like hydrogen or carbon or silica. Since gold also happens to be pretty, we think of it as valuable.

More about gold

To find out more about atoms, check out these books from Amazon.com or from your library:

Hydrogen
Helium
Carbon
Iron
Molecules
Electricity
Chemistry
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Copyright 2012-2014 Karen Carr, Portland State University. This page last updated 2014. Powered by Dewahost.
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