April 25, 2024

Astrophysics: Heavy elements “surf” on Earth on supernova waves

Heavy elements created during stellar explosions can, to a certain extent, slip to Earth on the blast waves of some supernovae, and thus have arrived here together despite their different origins. At least that’s what the simulations presented now suggest, which could solve a relatively new puzzle in astrophysics. As the research team in charge explains, after the radioactive isotopes were discovered in deep-sea rocks, the question arose of how they got there at the same time, even though they were created in very different explosions in space. Thus, the supernovae are responsible for the so-called collapse waves of the supernovae cores that collected the elements.

The mystery of the origin of some heavy elements began in 2021 with the discovery of underwater rocks, The research team explains. What was discovered were isotopes – that is, variants of an element – that originated during different astrophysical events but appeared to have appeared on Earth at the same time. As an example they lead 53MN (manganese), which is formed during the explosions of white dwarf stars, 60FE (iron) as a product of the collapse’s supernovae 244PU (plutonium) from neutron star mergers. The fact that they are located in the same layers of rocks has raised questions.

The research group led by Benjamin Wehmeyer of the University of Hertfordshire has now determined that material produced during various events is propelled through space by shock waves from more frequent supernovae. Despite their different origins, they can travel together and then land on Earth at the same time. This not only added another piece of the puzzle to the history of the origins of the Earth, but also taught something to the study of exoplanets. Since the abundance of certain isotopes is an important factor in whether such a celestial body can hold liquid water, one can use the result to determine which regions to look for habitable exoplanets. All research work Featured in The Astrophysical Journal.

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