An overlooked space-distant stellar explosion may have given Earth the gift of precious heavy elements such as gold and platinum, as a study claims. Throws our understanding of how heavy elements appeared on our planet upside down.
According to research published in the journal Nature, about 80 percent of the heavy elements in the universe are likely to have formed in collapses.
Collapses are rare, but heavily elemental forms of a supernova explosion from the gravitational collapse of ancient, massive stars, typically 30 times heavier than our Sun.
Using supercomputers, the researchers simulated the dynamics of collapses or old stars whose gravitational force implodes and forms black holes.
Under their model, massive, fast-spinning collapses eject heavy elements whose volumes and distribution are "remarkably similar to what we observe in our solar system," said Daniel Siegel of the University of Guelph.
Most of the elements found in nature were generated by nuclear reactions in stars and eventually emitted in huge stellar explosions.
Heavy elements found on Earth and elsewhere in the earth The universe of explosions ranges from gold and platinum to uranium and plutonium in nuclear reactors to more exotic chemical elements such as neodymium in consumer goods such as electronics.
Previously, scientists thought these elements were boiled off Mostly in star smashups with neutron stars or black holes, as in a collision of two neutron stars observed by terrestrial detectors in 201
"Our research into neutron star fusions has led us to believe that the birth of black holes occurs in a completely different kind of Stella. An explosion could produce even more gold than neutron star fusions," Siegel said.
What collapsers lack in frequency compensates them for producing heavy elements, Siegel said. Collapses also produce intense gamma bursting.
"Eighty percent of these heavy elements we should see come from collapses," Siegel said.
"Collapseers are rather rare in supernovae, even rarer than neutron star fusions – but the amount of material they launch into space is much higher than that of neutron star fusions," he said.
The team now hopes to validate its theoretical model through observations.
Siegel said this research can give clues as to how our galaxy began.