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Gold on Earth may have originated from colliding dead stars

July 19 (): A team of researchers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics (CfA) have come to the conclusion that gold on earth was created by the collision of two neutron stars.

Scientists have suggested this theory after studying a gamma ray burst (GRB) that happened when two neutron stars collided on June 3rd this year.

Lead author Edo Berger of the Harvard-Smithsonian CfA and his colleagues studied GRB 130603B which, at a distance of 3.9 billion light-years from Earth, is one of the nearest bursts seen to date.

In the explosion, telescopes have detected that it threw out a short gamma-ray burst and resulted in a strange glow that remained for days. Researchers stated that infrared light in the glow could be an indication that gold was thrown out from such collisions and suggest gold was produced in a similar way in the Milky Way.

The release by the CfA stated that unlike elements like carbon or iron, gold cannot be created within a star. Instead, the metal must be born in a more catastrophic event – like one that occurred last month known as a short gamma-ray burst (GRB), the CfA said.

Edo Berger said they estimated that the amount of gold produced and ejected during the merger of the two neutron stars may be as large as 10 moon masses. He added to summarise Carl Sagan, we are all-star stuff, and our jewellery are colliding-star stuff.

The elements on Earth are all of cosmic origin. Carbon and oxygen atoms in our bodies, for example, come from the interior of stars, where they were formed under high pressure and heat. They were later sent out into the universe in supernova explosions.

The Milky Way galaxy has hundreds of billions of stars. Evidently, such a neutron-star collision is likely to happen about once every 100,000 years, Berger said.