Vast explosions, throwing out gold, platinum and many of the world’s most precious elements, could be happening throughout the universe.
Nasa scientists have spotted what they think are immense explosions caused by neutron stars colliding into each other in distant space.
When that catastrophic event happened, it sent an intense jet of of high-energy particles through space that made their way past the scientists who spotted them using Nasa’s array of space telescopes.
Looking at the data from those telescopes could shed more light on some of the most spectacular and intense collisions found in space. And it could suggest that significant events of the kind described by scientists are relatively common.
The researchers think the explosion could be a “kilonova”. That is a bright flash of radioactive that flings out huge quantities of important elements like silver, gold, platinum and uranium.
The announcement comes after scientists announced last October that they had seen the first explosion of this kind. They spotted super dense stars smashing into each other 130 million light years away – wobbling the spacetime of the universe, and allowing them to be picked up by gravitational wave detectors at LIGO.
At the time, that discovery was hailed as a “new chapter in astrophysics” and an unexpected discovery. It allowed scientists to understand the spectacular explosions of neutron stars, as well as answering questions about where gold comes from.