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  • Phosphorus is a chemical element with symbol P and atomic number 15. As an element, phosphorus exists in two major forms—white phosphorus and red phosphorus—but due to its high reactivity, phosphorus is never found as a free element on Earth. Instead phosphorus-containing minerals is almost always present in its maximally oxidised state, as inorganic phosphate rocks. The first form of elemental phosphorus to be produced emits a faint glow upon exposure to oxygen – hence its name given from Greek mythology, Φωσφόρος meaning "light-bearer", referring to the "Morning Star", the planet Venus. The term "phosphorescence", meaning glow after illumination, originally derives from this property of phosphorus, although this word has since been used for a different physical process that produces a glow. The glow of phosphorus itself originates from oxidation of the white phosphorus— a process now termed chemiluminescence. Together with nitrogen, arsenic, and antimony, phosphorus is classified as a pnictogen. Phosphorus is essential for life. Phosphate is a component of DNA, RNA, ATP, and also the phospholipids, which form all cell membranes.

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