130-Million-Year-Old Cosmic Crash Triggers Gold Rush

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Clues about creation of metals like gold were discovered as a result of 130 million-year-old cosmic crash


New Delhi:  A cosmic crash that took place 130 million years ago has given clues of how heavy metals like gold were created. The signals of the crash, which took 130 million years ago, reached Earth in August. It was immediately picked up by astronomers across the world and the findings were announced today.

In India, the observation was carried out by space agency ISRO's space based observatory Astrosat.

The collision was between two dead stars in a galaxy called NGC 4993 in the Hydra constellation. It sent ripples of gravitational waves across the universe, which had been picked up by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatories, known as LIGO, in the US and a third detector, named Virgo, in Italy.

David Reitze of the California Institute of Technology called it the "greatest fireworks show in the universe".

The signals triggered huge excitement as scientists rushed to grab the one-in-a-billion chance to observe a kilonova - a collision between neutron stars. Neutron stars are the collapsed cores of large stars. A clash between them is said to trigger chemical changes across the universe and create heavy metals like gold, silver, platinum and uranium.

Scientists say the gold and silver mined on Earth were created in a similar kilonova.

Gravitational waves had been predicted by Einstein in 1916. It was an offshoot of his theory of relativity, which depicted gravity as a distortion of space and time triggered by the presence of matter. It was confirmed two years ago when scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the California Institute of Technology detected gravitional waves from two black holes.

Three US scientists who made the discovery were awarded the Nobel prize in physics earlier this month.

The findings published on Monday help confirm Einstein's theory, the researchers said.


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