The problem that has long been debated by researchers is that gold is an element, which means that it cannot be produced by conventional chemical reactions.
To make gold, 79 protons and 118 neutrons must be bonded together to form an atomic nucleus. It’s a complicated nuclear fusion.
But such an intense fusion doesn’t happen often enough to create a giant golden vault that we find on Earth and elsewhere in the Solar System.
In a new study, scientists have proposed that the most common theory of gold is the result of collisions between neutron stars. However, this theory also cannot explain the richness of gold. So where does the gold come from?
Some theories suggest that the gold in the universe comes from collisions after neutrons.
There are several other possibilities of interest to scientists, including intense supernovae. Unfortunately, even such strange phenomena cannot explain how the local universe broke down.
Neutron star collisions are believed to produce gold by quickly shattering protons and neutrons together into atomic nuclei, and then spewing those newly bonded heavy nuclei into space.
According to Chiaki Kobayashi, an astrophysicist at the University of Hertfordshire, UK, conventional supernovae cannot explain the origin of so much gold in the universe because stars are large enough to melt gold. In an ordinary supernova, this gold is sucked into a black hole.
“What about the supernova flip? This type of stellar explosion, also known as a magnetic spinning supernova, is a very rare and very fast spinning supernova, ”Kobayashi said.
During a magnetically rotating supernova, a dying star spins so quickly and is surrounded by a magnetic field so strong that it spins inside while exploding. When it dies, the star hurls jets of hot white matter into space.
Because the star has been rotated from the inside out, its jets are filled with gold cores. Stars that correspond to gold are rare. Even rarer are the stars that melt gold and then spit into space.
But even neutron stars and magnetically rotating supernovae cannot explain Earth’s source of gold.
“There are two phases to this question. The first is that the neutron stars do not merge enough. Second, even with the second, we cannot explain the amount of gold observed,” Chiaki Kobayashi explained.
Previous studies have been correct in suggesting that neutron star collisions release golden rain. But these studies do not explain the rarity of these accidents.
It is difficult to accurately estimate the frequency of small neutron stars because they are themselves the dense active remnants of ancient supernovae that collided with each other. But it is certainly not very popular. Scientists have only seen it once.
“This new research report is not the first time that neutron star collisions have been insufficient to explain the abundance of gold,” said Ian Roederer, astrophysicist at the University of Michigan.
However, the study contained references to 341 other publications, three times more than typical articles in today’s Journal of Astrophysics. Putting all this data together in a useful way is a lot of effort. “
Using this approach, the authors can explain the formation of atoms as light as carbon-12 and as heavy as uranium-238. It’s an impressive array of factors that are often overlooked in these types of studies.
But the origin of gold remains a mystery. Kobayashi says there is something scientists aren’t sure about creating gold.
Or, it is possible that neutron star collisions are producing more gold than existing models show. In either case, astrophysicists still have a long way to go before they can explain them precisely.