On earth, they have a great deal of value. But for now they are beyond our reach. Precious metals from space are more numerous than you might think. Neutron stars are great producers of them. How are they formed there? How abundant are they?
Gold in space
Gold, silver, zirconium and platinum are highly valued precious metals on earth. Their production in outer space is enormous. They are generated en masse from star-linked processes.
Fabio de Colle explains it well. He is a specialist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). He studies explosions related to neutron stars. And he says that they throw precious metals into space where they merge with planets in their formation stage.
Depending on the number of electrons, neutrons and protons, elements such as gold, hydrogen or magnesium are christened. Inside the stars, the specialist pointed out, nuclear reactions are generated. They transform hydrogen into helium, release energy and cause them to be hot. When the stars can no longer maintain this process, they increase in size. Finally they die in the form of supernovae that spew elements into space.
The heaviest elements, De Colle noted, are produced in so-called neutron stars. The researcher added that the most massive ones live in pairs. This allows their study beyond the different spectra of light.
Recently the LIGO project began to analyze them using gravitational waves. In 2017 it was able to capture the merger of two neutron stars. It is in this process that elements heavier than iron are formed.
“Imagine that in this event we observed in 2017, more than one Earth mass of gold was produced. Precious metals in space exist in huge quantities,” De Colle noted.