One study says that the explosion of a neglected star far into space could have offered the Earth heavy and precious elements such as gold and platinum.
Research conducted by the University of Guelph in Canada and Columbia University in the United States is reversing our understanding of how heavy elements have appeared on our planet.
According to research published in the journal Nature, about 80% of the heavy elements in the universe would probably have formed in collapsars.
Collapsars are a rare but heavy form of a supernova explosion resulting from the gravitational collapse of ancient, massive stars, usually 30 times heavier than our Sun.
With the help of supercomputers, researchers simulated the dynamics of collapsars or old stars whose gravity leads to their implosion and the formation of black holes.
According to their model, massive, rapidly rotating collapsies reject heavy elements whose quantities and distribution "look amazingly similar to what we observe in our solar system," said Daniel Siegel, of the University of Guelph.
Most of the elements found in nature were created by nuclear reactions in stars and were finally expelled by huge stellar explosions.
The heavy elements found on Earth and elsewhere in the universe, from old explosions, range from gold and platinum to uranium and plutonium used in nuclear reactors, passing by more exotic chemical elements, such as neodymium, present in consumer goods such as electronics.
Until now, scientists thought that these elements were mainly made up of stellar smashups involving neutron stars or black holes, as in a collision of two neutron stars observed by earth-bound detectors who made the headlines in 2017.
The team began striving to understand the physics of this fusion before their simulations indicated collapsars as a heavy element birth chamber.
"Our research on neutron star mergers led us to think that the birth of black holes in a very different kind of stellar explosion could produce even more gold than mergers. neutron stars, "said Siegel.
What collapsars lack of frequency, they compensate for the generation of heavy elements, said Siegel. Collapsars also produce intense gamma ray lightning.
"Eighty percent of these heavy elements that we see should come from collapses," Siegel said.
"Collapsars are quite rare in supernova occurrences, even rarer than neutron star mergers – but the amount of materials they eject into space is far greater than that from neutron star mergers, "he said.
The team now hopes to see its theoretical model validated by observations.
Siegel said this research could provide clues to the beginning of our galaxy.