Billions of years ago, neutron stars collided near the Solar System
Astrophysicists from Columbia University and the University of Florida have reported that they have come across a trace of a collision between two neutron stars that took place near the solar system about 4.6 billion years ago. The researchers added that about 0.3 percent of the. of the heaviest elements on Earth, including gold and platinum, may come from just this collision.
Astronomers have long wondered about the origin of the heaviest elements of theoin the Universe. Lighter ones, such as carbon, oxygen and iron, form in stars before they are ejected into space during a violent explosion – supernova. However, to create heavier elementalow an extreme environment is required. This is where a chain of reactions known as the r-process (r-process, rapid neutron captures process) can occur, whichorym atomic nuclei quickly absorb neutrons and undergo radioactive decay, creating new elements.
Scientists suspected that when two neutron stars collide, the conditions necessary for astronomical alchemy could occur. In addition, during a recent detection of gravitational waves from a neutron star collision, to telescopicow on Earth and in space reached light, whichore revealed a mixture of heavy elementsow, including gold, silver and platinum.
In the new research, ktore published in the pages of the journal „Nature”, astrophysicists Szabolcs Márka and Imre Bartos presented the concept of a collision twooch neutron stars, whichore took place 4.6 billion years ago. The cataclysmic event occurred near the solar system, about 1,000 light years to the location of theorym our planetary system was born. It can be said that 1,000 light years, as far as distances in the Universe go, is just around the corner.
This collision was most likely the source of theoThe source of some of the most desirable substances on Earth – gold, platinum or uranium. Scientists believe that this cataclysmic event mohead to power our planet and the entire planetary system in about 0.3 percent of the. the heaviest elementsow. But as a result of this collision mohead also arise iodine, whichory found in our bodies.
– This means that in each of us we will find some part of these elementsow, headownie in the form of iodine, ktory is essential for life,” Bartos said.
Researchers to their conclusionsow they arrived at after analyzing the radioactive residues of the isotopeoin found in an ancient meteorite. Of such cosmic rocks, whichore fell to Earth, much can be learned about the past of the solar system. Decaying isotopes act as clocks. Thanks to them, it is possible to reconstruct the time in whichohe resulting.
Scientists porownali chemical composition of the meteoriteow for numerical simulations of neutron star mergers in rotween different points in space-time around theoł of the Milky Way. They discovered that a single neutron star collision may have occurred around 100 millionow years before the formation of the Earth in our neighborhood, about 1,000 light-years from a cloud of gasoin and dustoin whichora eventually formed the Solar System.
– If a similar event occurred today at a similar distance from the solar system, the resulting radiation could darken the entire night sky, M saidárka.
Scientists believe their research provides insight into a unique event in our planetary history of the. – Our work sheds clear light on the processes involved in the origin and composition of our solar system and will initiate a new kind of exploration in disciplines such as chemistry, biology and geology, Bartos explained.
– Our results address fundamental questions of humanity: where we came from and where we are going? It is very difficult to describe the enormous excitement thatore we felt when we realized what we had found and what it meant– wtorowaned Mark’s colleague.