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Just the facts Carbon: From stars to life As the sixth-most abundant element in the universe, carbon forms in the belly of stars in a reaction called the triple-alpha process, according to the Swinburne Center for Astrophysics and Supercomputing.In older stars that have burned most of their hydrogen, leftover helium accumulates.Carbon is also the key ingredient for most life on Earth; the pigment that made the first tattoos; and the basis for technological marvels such as graphene, which is a material stronger than steel and more flexible than rubber.[See Periodic Table of the Elements] Carbon occurs naturally as carbon-12, which makes up almost 99 percent of the carbon in the universe; carbon-13, which makes up about 1 percent; and carbon-14, which makes up a minuscule amount of overall carbon but is very important in dating organic objects.It can also bond with up to four other atoms because of its electron arrangement.
This black soot, also known as lampblack, gas black, channel black or carbon black, is used to make inks, paints and rubber products.
These two forms have identical physical properties but different crystal structures.
It is produced in the upper atmosphere by radiation from the sun.
It can also be pressed into shapes and is used to form the cores of most dry cell batteries, among other things.
Graphite, one of the softest materials known, is a form of carbon that is primarily used as a lubricant.