Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

7/17/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Astronomers now have evidence that gold forms when neutron stars collide.

The gold we adore, hoard, and wear may be more exotic than most of us think, having formed in a process much more rare than previously imagined by ordinary folk.

Gold is likely formed in the collision between neutron stars.

Gold is likely formed in the collision between neutron stars.

Highlights

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

7/17/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Technology

Keywords: stars, gamma ray bursts, neutron, gold, formation


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - We value and enjoy the beauty of gold, one of the Earth's rarest and most precious metals. It has been used throughout all of recorded history as money, for jewelry and adornment, and even serves utilitarian purposes, mostly in electronics.

However, we rarely give thought to where gold comes from, other than that miners extract it from the Earth. Nevertheless, where does it form?

The Aztecs may have had the best answer, referring to gold as the excreta of the Sun.

Scientists have long known that gold comes from the deaths of stars, as does every element heavier than hydrogen. Stars are basically massive balls of hydrogen gas, billions of times more massive than the Earth. Hydrogen is the most basic element in the universe and the most abundant.

In the cores of stars, hydrogen atoms are fused by heat and pressure into heavier and heavier elements. Each fusion releases energy, like an H-bomb, that causes the stars to emit radiation all across the spectrum, including all of the heat and light which is familiar to us.

As stars exhaust the hydrogen in their cores and fuse heavier and heavier elements together, they become unstable and eventually explode. In this cataclysm, heavy metals are formed, from silicon to nickel.

However, this does not account very well for some of the heavier metals such as gold.

Scientists have long suspected that elements, such as gold, come from more exotic fusions. Now, they may have their answer.

A Harvard team led by astronomer Edo Berger, now suspects that gold is created in the fusion of two neutron stars. A neutron star is actually the super-dense core of a star that has burned all of its hydrogen fuel and collapsed in on itself forming a planet-sized relic where a star once burned. Any star with about 1.4 to 3.2 times the mass of our sun will become a neutron star.

Once dead, these stellar cores float through galaxies, carried by gravity until they interact with other objects. Occasionally, the cores of two neutron stars will pass close enough that they catch one another in their mutual gravity and spiral closer together in a final cosmic dance. Many star systems are binary systems, made of two stars, not just one. If both stars have the right amount of mass, they both may become neutron stars after they die.

Eventually, the two stars will collide in a cataclysmic cosmic crash that fuses extremely heavy elements, such as gold, together. These elements are strewn into space in the subsequent explosion. The two neutron stars may form a black hole, while the elements cast off from the collision may spread widely across the region of space where the collision occurred. The explosion also results in the emission of very high-frequency energy, known as a gamma ray burst. Gamma ray bursts can be observed occurring throughout our universe, even to its very edge.

Berger now believes his team has evidence of this actually happening. The team detected a gamma ray burst using the Swift X-ray telescope in June. The collision, GRB 130603B, occurred 3.9 billion light years away. Follow-up observations suggested the collision resulted in the broadcasting of heavy elements for as much as a week following. Berger called this the "golden glow."

They estimate that about 1 percent of the mass involved in these collisions is transformed into heavy elements. That's usually enough to create a small moon or planet's worth of gold in one moment.

Of course, those elements are strewn into space and coalesce with other material as new planets form.

Although the observation provides a clue as to how heavy elements such as gold are formed, it isn't conclusive. Berger makes clear that their observation is only one data point. Much more follow-up study is required to confirm the findings.

Still, it's remarkable to think that your wedding band may have a more exotic origin than you have ever imagined. When you wear gold, you wear a piece of the universe, 13.77 billion years old, and billions of years in the making, forged in the core of a cosmic cataclysm.

And for some of us reading, marriage suddenly makes a lot more sense.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for February 2015
General Intention:
That prisoners, especially the young, may be able to rebuild lives of dignity.
Missionary Intention: That married people who are separated may find welcome and support in the Christian community.



Comments


More Technology

Zombie Apocalypse: Safest plan is to 'head for the hills,' according to experts Watch

Image of In the event of a zombie apocalypse, cities would fall quickly. However, it would take weeks for zombies to penetrate into less densely populated areas.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In the event the dead return to life and begin to cannibalize the living, turning them into hordes of the shuffling undead, theoretically - there would be few options. Researchers at Cornell University offer a practical bit of advice should this happen - head ... continue reading


12 billion times size of our sun; scientists spot massive black hole Watch

Image of Researchers led by teams from China's Peking University and the University of Arizona both say the newly discovered black hole is six times larger than its biggest known contemporaries.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Chinese researchers have spotted a super massive black hole. Scientists say the heavenly body is 12 billion times the size of the sun. They theorize it formed around 900 million years after the Big Bang. The black hole, named SDSS J010013.02 is larger than any ... continue reading


Apple's 'Project Titan' shaking up U.S. automotive market Watch

Image of Excitement over Apple's

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In a market sometimes dictated by fad or fancy, Apple's announcement to hurry an electric car into production in a few short years - called "Project Titan," has inspired widespread consumer excitement. While auto companies typically take seven years to develop a ... continue reading


Bringing 'kid friendly' content to mobile users, YouTube releases new app 'YouTube Kids' Watch

Image of Intended for Smartphones and tablets, YouTube Kids will feature original content from DreamWorks TV, Jim Henson TV, Mother Goose Club, Talking Tom and Friends and more.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As the Internet is usually seen as providing inappropriate content for the young, YouTube will be bringing "kid friendly" content via its new app, YouTube Kids. The app will be available free on Android devices - only on February 23. There is no word yet on iOS ... continue reading


Going for it: Apple vows to have electric car out by 2020 Watch

Image of Apple's proposed electric car, the

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An electric vehicle that can go more than 200 miles on a single charge and cost less than $40,000 is a goal shared by at least three major companies. Both Tesla Motors and General Motors vow to have such a car available by the year 2017. Apple has now since ... continue reading


Keep your eyes open; Sony 'smart specs' get going as Google rethinks Glass Watch

Image of Sony's specs lack a certain

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Sony is forging ahead with its own version of Google Glass - spectacles that are tuned into the Internet, in spite of Google Glass being sent back for revamping. Computer giant Apple remains firm that the wrist is the right place for a wearable computer. Sony ... continue reading


New tool on Facebook will maintain your page - AFTER YOU DIE! Watch

Image of The Legacy Contact will be able to close down your profile, keep it frozen as a memorial, or leave it as it is.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

How we will be remembered in cyberspace after we pass on is usually down low - way, way down on our list of priorities. Stepping up to the plate, Facebook - the preeminent social networking Web site, has created an app that will inform your friends that you are ... continue reading


CYBER WARFARE: Utah suffering 300 million attacks daily, possibly due to National Security Agency Watch

Image of Any time Utah finds itself in controversy, cyber attacks seem to increase.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As the State of Utah is home to the new, secretive National Security Agency computer center, one that whistle-blower Edward Snowden informed to the world, hackers now think they can somehow get to it through state computer systems. This has led to the State of ... continue reading


Computer giant Apple wants to revolutionize TV - but world hesitates Watch

Image of Apple CEO Tim Cook said TV was

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Computer revolutionaries Apple want to extend their hands in to the cable TV business - but many players remains hesitant. A set-top box on screens seems to have been met with a cool reception with many cable TV companies. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


Why is Apple staying mum on mysterious van with strange apparatus? Watch

Image of Concord is the largest city in Contra Costa County, California, in the United States. At the 2010 census, the city had a population of 122,067.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A mysterious vehicle spotted on the streets of Concord, California is drawing attention. It's a dark blue minivan with several cameras attached to its roof. Nobody in the Northern Californian city knows what it is doing there. The only thing anyone has been ... continue reading


All Technology News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ezekiel 18:21-28
21 'If the wicked, however, renounces all the sins he ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8
1 [Song of Ascents] From the depths I call to you, ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 5:20-26
20 'For I tell you, if your uprightness does not ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for February 27th, 2015 Image

St. Leander of Seville
February 27: St. Leander of Seville, Bishop (Feast - February 27th) Leander ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter