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Supernova remnants found in Antarctica could be 20 million years old



A star collapses at death, spitting space dust into a huge cloud of elements that make for very nice Hubble telescope photos. The "explosion", called supernova, leads either to a black hole or to a small, dense star, which no longer generates heat.

A supernova also shoots space dust that wanders through the universe and occasionally comes in contact with other stars. Planets – whatever is on their way.

Earth has been around long enough to collect particles from exploding stars, though it's difficult to find evidence. But at some point in the last 20 years, the space dust of a supernova has overlapped the earth and settled in the Antarctic. The dust itself could be up to 20 million years old.

Scientists found a strange version of iron in relatively fresh snow in the Antarctic, as revealed by a study in the journal Physical Review Letters. In particular, it was an iron isotope, Fe-60, that astronomers knew existed when our solar system formed. The discovery of iron-laden dust could help scientists form a clearer timeline of our solar system.

Gunther Korschinek and his colleagues from institutes in Germany and Austria searched the earth for evidence of a supernova in space. They would have opted for Antarctica, Korschinek said, because they wanted a sample from "a very clean area that is not disturbed by dust from surrounding material" in their laboratories in Europe, on the hypothesis that they could find such stardust proofs , And their methods were relatively rudimentary.

The Iron-60 was there, but they had to exclude some other potential sources ̵

1; such as nuclear bomb or power plant remains – before they discovered it was interstellar. In the second half of the 20th century, nuclear weapons and their tests sent particles all over the planet, and these reactions also produced iron-60.

By excluding other sources, scientists have confirmed that it was space dust. The process is slow and involves many steps, said Korschinek. The closer the confirmation came, the more excited the team became. The discovery opens the window of research opportunities.

"We can hopefully learn more about supernovae from this specific supernova," Korschinek said.


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