Almost all the gold reserves in the universe really formed during the exotic fusion of neutron stars, as indicated by data collected during the last discovery of gravitational waves on LIGO and VIRGO detectors, British astronomers from the University of Warwick said.
“When we received the first data on the luminescence of this object, we realized that we are observing the so-called” kilo “star, an exotic object whose light is produced by extremely powerful thermonuclear reactions, which indicates that all the heavy elements such like gold or platinum, are the “ashes” of similar processes occurring in the remains of former neutron stars heated to billions of degrees Kelvin, “said Joe Lyman, an astrophysicist at the University of Warwick (UK).
After the Big Bang in the universe, there were only three elements – hydrogen, helium and trace amounts of lithium. However, 300 million years later, when the first stars appeared, more heavy elements, born during thermonuclear reactions in the bowels of the stars, began to appear.
Today, scientists believe that all elements heavier than iron, including gold, uranium, and other heavy and rare-earth metals, arose largely as a result of supernova explosions, since the temperature and pressure inside the stars are too low for their rapid formation.
On the other hand, recent attempts to estimate the amount of gold and other heavy elements generated by supernovae indicate that the latter form these substances extremely slowly. This suggests that other, more exotic processes, such as collisions of neutron stars, could be involved in their birth.
The gravitational waves generated during such an event, discovered by LIGO and VIRGO detectors in mid-August this year, as Lyman notes, allowed astronomers to approach the answer to this riddle.
When the gravitational observatories received a signal about the merging of pulsars, the LIGO team gave these data to other astronomers working with “classical” telescopes. The first traces of this flash began to appear in the gamma range just seconds after the event was recorded, but the optical and radio wave traces of this merger became visible only after a few days.
When scientists studied the spectrum of this outbreak, they discovered what they had long been looking for – traces of heavy elements forming in discarded remains of neutron stars. In addition to gold, platinum and other noble metals, astrophysicists found in the remains of the flare GW170817 and a number of rare-earth and radioactive elements that can not be formed in any other conditions.
In favor of this, in addition to the spectrum of the outbreak itself, the “color” of this cosmic cataclysm also speaks – it was more red than a typical gamma burst or supernova explosion, which indicates the presence of a large number of heavy elements in a matter cloud ejected into space after the neutron stars.
According to current calculations of scientists, each such event generates huge amounts of gold and platinum – about 200 and 500 Earth masses, as well as other noble and radioactive metals. Similar values, as concluded by Lyman, are more than enough to explain the birth of all stocks of heavy elements in the bowels of the Earth and other planets of the solar system.