Scientists are looking for the origins of the’star-stuff’ from which we are made.
Two groups of scientists may have discovered a technique to learn more about the elements that make up stars, planets, and even humans.
While physicists have long known that the universe’s lighter elements are formed by nuclear processes inside stars and spread throughout galaxies when these stars go supernova at the conclusion of their lifetimes, the origins of the universe’s heavier elements have remained a mystery.
These nuclear fusion processes can only account for the formation of heavy metals like iron.
Two different teams of researchers hope to present new data that could explain the genesis of half of the universe’s elements during the 2021 Fall Meeting of the APS Division of Nuclear Physics, which runs from October 10 to 14.
Carl Sagan once said “We are part of the cosmos. We’re made of the substance of stars. We are a means for the cosmos to become aware of itself “The astronomer, planetary scientist, cosmologist, astrophysicist, astrobiologist, and author from the United States was not exaggerating.
Lighter elements like hydrogen and helium were fused into the carbon that makes up our cells, the oxygen we breathe, and the calcium in our teeth in the nuclear furnaces that are stars, creating every atom that makes up our bodies.
Massive supernovas heralded the end of these stars’ existence when their fuel ran out, spreading these elements throughout their galaxies and into the wider universe.
As a result, a carbon atom on the tip of your finger and one in your nose may now be separated by only a foot or two, when they may once have been found billions of light-years apart on different sides of the cosmos. They will only come together once to form the atom aggregation that is “you.” While each following generation of stars is built up of material formed by its predecessors through nuclear processes, resulting in heavier and heavier elements, the atomic mass of an element that can be created by a star’s normal nuclear processes is limited.
Only enough light elements can be forced together by stars to produce iron. That means we don’t know how elements heavier than iron are produced at the moment. That’s all there is to it. This is a condensed version of the information.