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Will we soon be able to witness the birth of gold directly in the universe?

Will we soon be able to witness the birth of gold directly in the universe?

Medieval alchemists failed to produce gold, with Einstein's telescope intended to help monitor the birth of gold in space.

Gold was once created by the collision of two neutron stars and came to Earth. With the help of Einstein's telescope, we may be able to watch the formation of gold in the future.

Photo: Panther Media/Anton Matyukha

In the Middle Ages, many alchemists tried unsuccessfully to convert base metals into silver and gold. Interestingly, this research led to the invention of Meissen porcelain. But how did gold actually appear on Earth? The answer lies in space. In the future, a new telescope will enable the observation of live cosmic events that produce gold.

Neutron star collision produces gold

In the summer of 2017, astronomers witnessed an amazing day. On August 17, three gravitational wave detectors recorded a new signal. Hundreds of telescopes around the world immediately turned their lenses towards the suspected place of origin and actually detected a bright celestial body – a supernova. For the first time, it has become possible to detect the collision of two neutron stars as a gravitational wave and optically.

Neutron stars are fascinating objects in the universe. It consists of burned out stars that have lost their brightness. Although it weighs only slightly more than our Sun, it has shrunk to less than 20 kilometers in diameter. The collision of such stars is so powerful that atomic nuclei are torn apart and heavy elements such as gold are formed.

“Compared to the mass of neutron stars, only a small amount of gold is produced – about a few Moon masses,” explains Professor Achim Stahl from RWTH Aachen University with a smile. “But research suggests that most of the gold in the universe was created in such giant explosions.” So the gold ring on our finger has a Hungarian history.

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