Knowing that the gold on this planet came from colliding stars may not shift the price upward, but it could make for interesting talk around the water cooler.
Following research done at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics (CfA) in Cambridge, MA, scientists are of the opinion that all the gold on Earth likely originated from violent collisions between neutron stars, billions of years ago.
In June, a team investigating a short duration gamma-ray outburst were surprised by a residual near-infrared glow, possibly from a cloud of material created during the collision. They surmised that the cloud contained largely heavy elements, including gold.
An article at UniverseToday.com explained that gamma-ray bursts come in both long and short, measured by the duration of the gamma-ray flash. The event recorded in June 3 by NASA’s Swift satellite lasted for less than 0.2 sec. The afterglow that emerged was atypical of high speed jet particles that slam into the surrounding environment.
Rather, the glow looked like it came from exotic radioactive elements. Scientists believe the neutron rich material ejected by colliding neutron stars can generate such elements, which then undergo radioactive decay, emitting a glow that’s dominated by infrared light.
How much gold? The singe short gamma-ray outburst produced 1/100 of a solar mass of material, only some of which would have been gold.
No wonder it took billions of years for gold to collect on Earth. The total amount of the yellow metal recovered by humans is estimated at roughly 170,000 tonnes, and the vast majority of that can be accounted for.
Read the article and watch the video by clicking here.