A galaxy “gold treasure” shows how heavy elements formed in the first place. Neutron stars were responsible for the r-process elements.
The experts have resolved a 60 year old enigma. It was regarding the genesis of the heaviest elements in the cosmos. This can be seen in the form of light coming in from a distant small galaxy.
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The fact of the matter is that the majority of the chemical elements are made inside stars like our sun. These later on go to make up everything from rocks to reptiles. The source of such rare and heavy elements as gold, silver, lead and uranium has puzzled scientists though.
Astronomers have discovered a galaxy known as Reticulum II. Its planets have a lot of these metals in them. Termed r-process elements, they are available in huge amounts in this galaxy from among the rest of the ten odd galaxies that have been studied.
This calls for an explanation. Most probably an event took place billions of years ago that led to such a situation. Large amounts of heavy elements got created and then they were distributed among the gas and dust emanating from this galaxy. The r-process elements formed the main core of the planets of Reticulum II which stick out in this regard.
It was probably a collision of two neutron stars. While the hypothesis concerning this was already extant, no observations had been made to lend credence to it.
Yet now scientists have collected the data necessary for an explanation regarding this r-process haven of a galaxy. Some of the r-process elements are used in making ornaments and nuclear power generation on earth.
R-process means rapid neutron-capture process. All elements heavier than iron come within this rubric. Since nuclear fusion is occurring at the center of stars, they are generating heat and light not to mention heavier elements in the process.
As for neutron stars, they are the densest of objects in the known universe. A handful of a neutron star would weigh as much as the tallest of mountains.
As neutron stars collide, they generate particles that shoot out at the speed of light. By the time they are thoroughly mixed up with the surrounding gas and dust, you have enriched materials on the planets in the environs.
As for the gold on earth, it probably comes from impacts with asteroids. This gold was not made in asteroids but in neutron stars though.
This study got published in the journal Nature.