Scientists have come across a strange puzzle. The Earth has too much gold than it should. And there is no theory that can explain its origin.
One thing probably not anyone would ever admit is that they have too much gold. The attractive-looking yellow metal is one of the most sought after elements. Yet, a group of scientists believe that the Earth and the universe in general has too much gold than it should. And to add to the confusion, no one can figure out where all this gold came from. The mysterious touch of Midas has become an astronomical perplexity. Earlier it was believed that the origin of gold was from the collision between two neutron stars. But a recent study has found that explanation to be inadequate. So, where did all this gold come from?
The question of Gold: Where’s the universe’s Gold mine
The question around gold is a legitimate one. Gold is an element, so it cannot be made from ordinary chemical reactions. So, the question of different elements coming together to form it goes out of the window. Further, gold needs 79 protons and 118 neutrons in its atomic nucleus, which makes it a very energy intensive affair to make gold, unlike hydrogen which can be made in laboratories. The energy needed to fuse together that many protons and neutrons would require a very high nuclear fusion. But that amount of nuclear fusion does not happen commonly in the universe. Definitely not enough to explain the amount of gold available on Earth, let alone the rest of the universe.
The popular theory of neutron star collision has been found to be insufficient by a group of scientists. “Neutron star collisions build gold by briefly smashing protons and neutrons together into atomic nuclei, then spewing those newly-bound heavy nuclei across space. Regular supernovas can’t explain the universe’s gold because stars massive enough to fuse gold before they die — which are rare — become black holes when they explode,” Chiaki Kobayashi, an astrophysicist at the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom and lead author of the new study told Live Science.
While past studies were not wrong in stating that neutron star collisions can form gold, the new study claims that the rarity of this event was never accounted for. Scientists have witnessed this phenomenon happen only once. The rough estimates around these numbers show that these space rocks do not collide frequently enough to have produced all the gold found in the solar system.
This new study is an extremely data rich model that has referenced 341 other publications. The authors were able to explain formation of light elements like carbon-12 as well as heavy elements like strontium and europium. However, gold remains an enigma.