|What is the heaviest metal?
|Question Date: 2011-11-18|
Osmium is the most dense metal! Many
people are familiar with lead (11.3 kg/L), but
osmium is twice as dense (22.6 kg/L)! Each liter
(about 1/4 gallon) of osmium weighs 22.6 kg (50
lbs). For comparison, each liter of water weighs
only 1 kg (~2.2 lbs). Some other heavy metals
include tungsten and gold (19.3 kg/L), which are
almost as dense as osmium.
There are a lot
of numbers, but sometimes it's tough to make sense
out of these. A small car (Honda Accord) weighs
3400 lbs without any gas or people inside. The
same weight would be only 2 cubic feet of osmium.
That's about the same space in a paper grocery
bag. So, if you had a piece of osmium about the
size of a paper grocery bag, it would weigh as
much as a new car.
I assume by "heaviest," you mean "densest;" in
that case, the densest chemical element is osmium
(which is a metal). Osmium has a density of around
22 grams per cubic centimeter, about twice the
density of lead!
The heaviest naturally occurring element is
plutonium measured by the mass of
However, if you go by a
practical metric, like the weight of a brick of a
material you might think otherwise. Osmium and
iridium are very dense materials ~22.6
about 20 times heavier than the same volume of
water and about 10% more dense than plutonium.
They would seem to be heavier, but the atoms are
More are always being discovered or
manufactured. The heaviest element commonly found
in nature is uranium, although
plutonium is heavier.
white dwarf stars are composed of electron
degenerate matter - matter compressed so much (by
gravity) that the electrons can't bond to the
electron shells of the atoms, and the chemical and
physical properties of such a material are
essentially those of a metal. These objects can
have the mass of a star compressed into a volume
that of a planet like the Earth, which is
thousands of times denser than anything we're
actually familiar with here on Earth. Of course,
the elements composing white dwarf stars are
things like carbon, oxygen, and other things that
aren't normally metals at all at Earth-like
I believe the heaviest naturally occurring
metal in terms of atomic weight is plutonium.
However, osmium is the densest metal followed by a
closed second place with iridium. Here is the
wikipedia page on osmium
that you might find interesting.
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