A new source of gold has been discovered in the least expected place in the universe – teach me about science

Gold is one of the most desirable metals in the world, but its production from heavy metals such as gold, thorium and uranium requires active conditions such as stellar explosions or collisions between neutron stars. This means that all the heavy elements on Earth formed under extreme conditions in astrophysical environments.

Today astrophysicists have an incomplete understanding of how elements heavier than iron are formed. Researchers are fascinated by the question of which of these astrophysical events create the right conditions for the formation of heavy elements. surprises, New study It shows that these elements can form in black hole accretion disks.

The accretion disk is called the circular chaos surrounding a newborn active black hole as it swallows dust and gas from the space around it. In these harsh environments, the high rate of neutrino emission should facilitate the conversion of protons into neutrons, which could lead to an increase in the latter, which is only needed for the process that produces heavy elements.

“In our study, we systematically investigated for the first time the neutron and proton conversion rates of a large number of disk configurations using complex computer simulations, and found that the disks are very neutron-rich as long as certain conditions are met,” explain Dr. Oliver Just, of the Relativistic Astrophysics Group in the GSI Theory Research Division.

just say That: The determining factor is the total mass of the disk. “The larger the disk, the more neutrons that form protons by electron capture under neutrino emission, and are available for the synthesis of heavy elements via the r process.”

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On the contrary, if the mass of the disk is very high, the reverse reaction plays a more important role, so that neutrinos are recovered to a greater extent by neutrinos before leaving the disk. These neutrinos convert back into protons, making fast neutron capture, or the r process, difficult.

The study indicates that the optimum mass of the disk to become a factory for gold and other heavy materials ranges between 0.01 and 0.1 solar masses. Since it is currently unclear if and how often these accumulation discs occur in collapsed systems, the research is still inconclusive.

“This data is currently insufficient. But with the next generation of accelerators, such as the Proton and Ion Research Facility (FAIR), it will be possible to measure it with unprecedented accuracy in the future.” He said Astrophysicist Andreas Bauswein of the GSI Helmholtz Center for Heavy Ion Research.

It is known that large quantities of elements are produced inside stars, but when we switch to elements heavier than iron, we resort to literally catastrophic events. The most dangerous events occur during the birth of black holes. However, astrophysicists aren’t sure what the conditions actually hold, apart from the relative contributions of these conditions to the overall abundance of heavy elements in the universe.

The team has done a lot of work, using simulations to determine if this is indeed the case. We could rhetorically call it the magical moment when astrophysics and computing come together to trace the history of the things we have in common today, but as we’ve seen, it has its origins in cosmic events where it also includes exotic black holes.

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The search was published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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