Visual Encyclopedia

Oxygen

Oxygen is a chemical element with symbol O and atomic number 8. It is a member of the chalcogen group on the periodic table and is a highly reactive nonmetal and oxidizing agent that readily forms oxides with most elements as well as other compounds. By mass, oxygen is the third-most abundant element in the universe, after hydrogen and helium. At standard temperature and pressure, two atoms of the element bind to form dioxygen, a colorless and odorless diatomic gas with the formula . This is an important part of the atmosphere and diatomic oxygen gas constitutes 20.8% of the Earth's atmosphere. Additionally, as oxides the element makes up almost half of the Earth's crust.

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