Cosmic crashes forging gold: Nuclear reactions in space do produce the heaviest elements

Where did gold form? For a long time, the cosmic production site of this rare metal - here are shown natural gold nuggets from California and Australia - and of other very heavy chemical elements has been unknown. New theoretical models now confirm that it could be forged in the merger events of two neutron stars. Credit: Natural History Museum, London

Collisions of neutron stars produce the heaviest elements such as gold or lead. The cosmic site where the heaviest chemical elements such as lead or gold are formed has most likely been identified: Ejected matter from neutron stars merging in a violent collision provides ideal conditions. In detailed numerical simulations, scientists of the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics and affiliated to the Excellence Cluster Universe and of the Free University of Brussels have verified that the relevant reactions of atomic nuclei do take place in this environment, producing the heaviest elements in the correct abundances….. Continue reading Cosmic crashes forging gold: Nuclear reactions in space do produce the heaviest elements