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where exactly comes Gold from? an insight into the origin of GOLD

Gold is primarily formed through a process called nucleosynthesis that occurs in the cores of stars during their life cycle. The journey begins with the fusion of lighter elements like hydrogen and helium. In the intense heat and pressure at the stellar core, these elements undergo nuclear fusion reactions, converting them into heavier elements.

As a star ages, it goes through different stages of fusion, creating progressively heavier elements. In the later stages, when a star has exhausted its hydrogen fuel, it may undergo a series of fusion reactions, including helium fusion, carbon fusion, and so on, until it reaches iron.

Unlike lighter elements, the fusion of iron is not energetically favorable, and it absorbs more energy than it releases. This marks a critical point in a star's life. The star can no longer sustain itself against gravitational collapse, leading to a dramatic event known as a supernova.

During a supernova explosion, the outer layers of the star are expelled into space, and the intense energy and pressure generated in the explosion can trigger rapid neutron capture, a process known as the r-process. This is where gold formation comes into play.

In the r-process, heavy elements like gold are formed by quickly capturing neutrons onto existing nuclei. This rapid neutron capture creates unstable isotopes, which subsequently decay into more stable forms, ultimately producing elements like gold.

The dispersed material from the supernova, enriched with these newly formed elements, contributes to the formation of future stellar systems, planets, and even our solar system. So, gold, along with other heavy elements, owes its existence to the explosive death throes of massive stars in the cosmos.

What would happen if a supernova detonates near earth?

A supernova is a powerful and catastrophic explosion that occurs at the end of a massive star's life cycle. This event is marked by an immense burst of energy, making a star briefly shine much brighter than an entire galaxy before fading away. The aftermath of a supernova can have significant consequences for its surrounding environment, and if such an event were to occur relatively close to Earth, it would have profound effects on our planet.

What is a Supernova?
A supernova occurs when a massive star exhausts its nuclear fuel and can no longer support its own gravitational forces. The collapse of the star's core leads to an explosive release of energy, resulting in the ejection of outer layers into space. There are two primary types of supernovae:

Type I Supernova: This occurs when a white dwarf, a dense remnant of a star, accretes matter from a companion star until it reaches a critical mass. The white dwarf undergoes a rapid fusion process, causing a thermonuclear explosion.

Type II Supernova: This is the result of the collapse of a massive star (at least eight times the mass of our Sun). The core contracts, triggering a rebound effect that results in a powerful explosion.

Possible Outcomes of a Supernova Explosion Close to Earth:
Radiation and Electromagnetic Pulses:
The intense radiation emitted during a supernova can have damaging effects on the Earth's atmosphere and biosphere. High-energy gamma rays and X-rays could ionize the Earth's atmosphere, leading to changes in atmospheric chemistry and potentially impacting life on Earth.

Ozone Depletion:
Supernova explosions could deplete the ozone layer, allowing harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the Sun to reach the Earth's surface. This increased UV radiation could have detrimental effects on the environment, including damage to DNA and potential harm to living organisms.

Disruption of Earth's Magnetic Field:
The intense energy released by a nearby supernova could interact with the Earth's magnetic field, causing disruptions. This might affect electronic systems, satellite communication, and navigation systems.

Impact on Climate:
The energy released during a supernova could potentially alter the Earth's climate by affecting atmospheric and oceanic conditions. The extent of these changes would depend on the distance of the supernova from Earth.

Cosmic Ray Exposure:
Supernova explosions release cosmic rays, high-energy particles that can pose a threat to life on Earth. An increase in cosmic ray exposure could have implications for both terrestrial and space-based organisms.

Likelihood and Distance:
While supernovae are relatively common events in the universe, the likelihood of one occurring close enough to Earth to pose a significant threat is extremely low. The vast distances between stars make it improbable for a supernova to have a direct and immediate impact on our solar system.

In summary, while the effects of a supernova explosion close to Earth could be severe, the chances of such an event occurring in the foreseeable future are minimal. Supernovae are more likely to be observed at safe distances, providing astronomers with valuable insights into the life cycles of stars and the dynamics of the universe.

  • Published in Space

Supernova Could Eliminate Life on Earth

Astronomers during the last American Astronomical Society conference said that a massive white dwarf star within the cycle of a multiple nova is substantially nearer to our own solar system in contrast to at one time thought. Whenever it actually does collapse into a type Ia supernova -- the resulting thermonuclear explosion will adversely affect life on the planet. Significantly.

The star is actually part of a binary starsystem a white dwarf that leaches mass off its sun-like neighbor called T Pyxidis, situated in the southern area of the constellation Pyxis, referred to as "The Compass Box." The system can be described as an recurrent nova since it has been subjected to frequent novas during the last century, suffering somewhat small thermonuclear explosions around 1890, 1902, 1920, 1944 and 1967, or just about every twenty years. 
It is currently been over Four decades since that last nova in 1967, and in the mean time the white dwarf continues to swell, nourishing off its neighbor. If it carries on to swell, it might eventually reach the Chandrasekhar Limitation, a critical mass at which point immediate gravitational collapse will occur causing a thermonuclear blast comparable to 20 billion billion billion megatons of TNT.

Considering that scientist have recently found out that T Pyxidis is only 3,260 light-years away from us, a neighbor by cosmic standards and a lot closer than up until recently thought, that kind of epic explosion wouldn't be good for our stellar neighborhood. The Gamma radiation which would reach Our planet would be equal to 1,000 simultaneous solar flares bombarding planet earth. The resulting creation of nitrous oxides in the upper atmosphere would undoubtedly completely destroy the ozone, at which point it is safe to say the planet would be compleetly uninhabitable.

But the magnificent scale of the cosmos that allows these kinds of massive, cataclysmic events to unravel also bears a gold lining for anybody on Earth. Although in terms of star life a supernova is probably around the cosmic corner, it is believed to take place millions of earth years from today, a full 10 million years by some estimates. The reality is that we're to far away from T Pyxidis to really tell exactly how big it is or how quickly it is accreting mass. But the end of the world will not be coming tomorrow. Or even in a couple of years.

Excellent video interview about T Puxidis on bottom of page.


  • Published in Space
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