Look closely at your wedding band, or the chain around your neck. Astronomers claim the gold they are made of are the result of a collision of stars thousands of years ago.
The lighter elements in our world, such as oxygen and calcium, were created by dying stars. But scientists have been unsure how the heavier elements that make up our planet came to be. They now have a theory. They are the result of a collision between two neutron stars.
Neutron stars are the results of imploding stars. They are incredibly dense matter, approximately 10 miles in diameter, but weigh 1.4 times more than our sun.
The implosion of stars is a relatively common occurrence, about every one hundred years. The collision of neutron stars may happen once in 10,000 years. When they do, they release heavy minerals. This is according to a team led by Harvard astronomer Edo Berger which is reporting that gold is likely created as an aftereffect. And this happens about a week after they collide.
“Call it the golden glow,” Berger says. “In this case, we were able to observe it for the first time and see how the merger seems to be producing (the) heavy elements.”
Scientists observed this phenomenon in June, using NASA’s Swift X-ray telescope satellite. This happened about 3.9 billion light years away. Observations tell scientist that collisions by two neutron stars produce enough gold to make-up several ‘moons.’ “At today’s prices, that amount of gold would be worth 10 octillion dollars,” says Berger. (That’s $10,000 trillion-trillion or $10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, for anyone counting.)
Overall, only about one percent of the results of such a collision releases exotic minerals. The gold on earth is estimated to have been created 4.54 billion years ago, as it accumulated in the forming earth’s crust.
“This means (that) the Harvard team might have discovered the ‘smoking gun’ for unraveling the long-standing mystery which objects in the universe are responsible for the production of gold and platinum and other heavy elements,” says astrophysicist Hans-Thomas Janka of Germany’s Max-Planck Institute for Astrophysics. “One gets even more platinum in the same events, so even more material for mankind’s jewelry!”
Janka cautions that more observations will be necessary to draw a definitive conclusion.
“It really seems that the gold in jewelry that people are wearing is the result of one of the most violent explosions in the universe: a gamma-ray burst that is produced when two neutron stars merge with each other,” says astrophysicist Stephen Rosswog of Germany’s Jacobs University Bremen, who first suggested the golden glow effect in 1999. “These are very difficult observations, but if this turns out to be true, this would be truly very exciting news.”
Every time you look at your rings, chains, or bracelets, you now know that the gold in them was created by the collision of stars.
Alfred James reporting