The gold in your ring or necklace comes from the deep space, through a cosmic collision. When Neutron Stars collide they spew a high amount of gold.
Two neutron stars, some 130 million years ago, in another galaxy, spiraled closer and closer together until they crashed into each other. Thus, sending gravitational shivers through the universe.
So, astronomers detected the aftermath of the merger on Earth on August 17. For the first time, they could see the source of universe-warping forces that Albert Einstein predicted a century ago.
When they collide, they toss neutrons and protons off into space. They squeeze them out in a massive, hot cloud that speeds away to form some of the most coveted materials in the universe.
“It’s like taking two jelly donuts and slamming them together,” Dan Kasen says. Kasen is a theoretical astrophysicist and one of the 4,000 scientists who recently announced the observation of two neutron stars merging in visible light, but also with gravitational wave detectors.
Astronomers used infrared telescopes to study the spectra of the collision. Astronomers found that when merger ejected the plume it contained a host of newly formed heavy chemical elements. It was gold, silver, platinum and other desired elements. The amount of this cosmic bling could be about 10,000 Earth-masses of heavy elements, scientists estimate.
Basically, we are seeing gold and platinum being made in real-time.
Researchers calculate that a neutron star collision occurs around once every 10,000 years within the Milky Way.
So, what are Neutron Stars?
Neutron stars are the collapsed cores of dead stars, the lone survivors of supernovae. They are thought to be the densest objects in the Universe.
How dense? A neutron star measures about the size of a city but has about the same mass as our sun. So, that’s really heavy. An interesting fact is that a teaspoon of its surface would weigh about 10 million tons.
Neutron stars release tons of neutrons when the merge. Heated to extreme temperatures, the neutrons bombard surrounding atoms and form heavy elements. The baby elements go on to become part of other objects of the universe, like stars and planets, including our own.
Observatories from all over the world worked to get the results. Scientists analyzed those results for months. The most exciting thing we learned from this collision is that it showed us where most of the heavier elements in the Universe come from.