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Astronomers Found Unusual Elements in an Ancient Hypernova

A team of Astronomers stated today that the unusual elemental makeup of one star in the Milky Way could be due to a colossal sort of stellar collapse in the early universe. The discovery could aid Astronomers in better understanding the many origins of the universe’s heavy elements, such as gold. SMSS J200322.54-114203.3, the star in question, is 7,500 light-years from the Sun and is located in the halo on the galaxy’s outskirts.

The team believes the star’s peculiar chemistry is caused by a stellar explosion that is even more explosive than a supernova, known as a “hypernova.” The creation of elements heavier than iron necessitates powerful forces: Two standard methods include the merger of neutron stars and the collapse of massive stars in supernova explosions. When lesser parts absorb many neutrons, some of which decay into protons, a stable isotope of a heavy element is created.

The force of the explosion or collision disperses those elements throughout the interstellar medium, eventually ending up in other stars and on worlds like Earth. According to scientists, the chemistry of this star, which had a shallow iron content and a lot of nitrogen, zinc, europium, and thorium, pointed to a different source of heavy metals than a conventional neutron star merger. Their findings were published in Nature today.

The researchers were hunting for a star with a lot of heavy metals like zinc, thorium, and europium. They combed through 26,000 stars from the SkyMapper Southern Sky Survey, a project that has amassed a database of 600 million night sky objects. They limited the field to 150 choices, but only SMSS J200322.54-114203.3 had the high-nitrogen, high-zinc signal that the researchers were looking for.

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