Gravitational Waves, Nuclear Fire, Rocks and Love

Caleb Scharf: A new piece of research by Imre Bartos and Szabolcs Marka, published this week in Nature, provides an ingenious and somewhat startling insight to the origins of r-process elements in our own solar system. To achieve this they combine two key analyses. One is data from meteorites that preserve evidence of the elemental mix in our forming solar system some 4.6 billion years ago. The other is a clever statistical model of the Galaxy’s history of neutron star mergers. What the research points to is a very nearby neutron star collision that took place at the dawn of our local cosmic history. Traces of this one event seem to be present in the details of radioisotopes coming from the r-process that got sprayed into our forming system after the neutron stars collided.

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