A collision of neutron stars forms a strontium — the element heavier than iron

Space is the greatest mystery which only you can imagine. Its open spaces are born, collide, and die, galaxies, stars and other celestial objects. Today, scientists know about how the collision of galaxies and even black holes. But equally interesting is the collision of neutron stars — the densest objects in the Universe that quanta collapse into the dark black holes. Recently, scientists have discovered that the merger of neutron stars forming a plurality of heavy elements and even identified one of them. The results of a study published October 23 in the journal Nature indicate the presence of strontium in the spectra of the wavelengths of light observed from the collision of neutron stars.

Neutron star quanta collapse into the dark space monsters

Recall that a neutron star — one of the most mysterious objects in the Universe, as a matter of fact each star represents the atomic nucleus, with rather strange properties. The study of neutron stars could shed light on many dark spots in our understanding of the extreme physics of the Universe.

What happens as a result of the collision of neutron stars?

A collision of neutron stars triggers a chain of chemical reactions which scientists call the r-process. During the r-process nuclear core of stars capture neutrons from the environment, which leads to the formation of heavier elements. But investigators were not sure where the r-process. Besides, there is no recorded data on how exactly is the r-process in a specific celestial object or event — for example, merging neutron stars.

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The study of 2017 showed that a collision of neutron stars has generated a mixture of heavy elements, typical for r-process. But this and earlier studies are unable to determine exactly what it was items. The fact that the researchers studied a relatively heavy elements r-process, whose complex atomic structure can generate millions of spectral features, which at that time was not identified. Strontium, on the other hand, a relatively light element compared to other elements of the r-process and has a simple atomic structure that generates a few strong spectral labels, which were measured in the laboratory. In the study, researchers expanded the analysis to consider the strontium and other elements of the r-process and could identify the spectral fingerprint of strontium in the spectra obtained using the Very Large Telescope in Chile in the first few days after the merger of neutron stars.

It looks like the Very Large Telescope in Chile

How are neutrinos and collision of neutron stars?

The researchers note that the presence of strontium is not too unexpected, but it can tell us something interesting about the composition of the material that is emitted during the merger of these dense celestial objects. Scientists believe that the material of the neutron star, producing the strontium probably was subjected to some other interaction, for example, the bombardment of ghostly subatomic particlescalled neutrinos, created in the merger of neutron stars. Neutrinos are particles with no electric charge, which play a very important role in nuclear reactions. Today physicists know that neutrinos have a mass, however, is still a huge number of questions about these particles. Some types of neutrinos are sterile — this means that they actually ever interact with anything. Physics do not exclude that such neutrinos could constitute dark matter.

Thus, the number of questions regarding the extreme physics of the Universe remains very high, however, the fact that the researchers were able to identify the element generated by the merger of neutron stars means that we are on the right track. Do you think scientists will solve in the next 30 years the mystery of dark matter? Let’s talk on this subject in the comments and with members of our Telegram chat.

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