Gold seen in neutron star collision debris | Science News



Support credible science journalism.

Subscribe to Science News today.


Gold seen in neutron star collision debris

Material ejected in gamma-ray bursts may be source of heavy elements

3:20pm, July 22, 2013

GOLD EXPLOSION  New observations suggest that  colliding neutron stars (shown in this artist's conception) produce short  gamma-ray bursts. Such collisions also eject material that may be the source of  the universe's gold and other heavy elements.

View the video

Dead stars make good alchemists.

Images snapped by the Hubble Space Telescope suggest that gold may have been generated by a violent neutron star collision that also yielded lead, platinum, uranium and other heavy elements.

The stellar smashup was detected on June 3, when NASA’s Swift satellite observed a gamma-ray burst 3.9 billion light-years away. Astrophysicists believe that a crash between two neutron stars, the dense, neutron-rich cores left over after massive stars explode, released the 0.2-second flash of energy.

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join the Society today or Log in.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from this issue of Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content