Monday , October 3 2022

The new discovery shows glass of exploding stars


PARIS – The next time you look outside the window looking for inspiration, do not forget that the material you see was forged in the heart of an explosive ancient star.

An international team of scientists said on Friday that it had identified silica – the main ingredient of glass – in the remnants of two distant supernovae billions of light years from Earth.

The researchers used NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope to analyze the light emitted by the collapsing mega complex and obtain silicon "fingerprints" based on the specific wavelength of the light that is known to emit the material.

A supernova occurs when a big star burns through its own fuel, causing a disastrous collapse that ends in an explosion of galactic proportions. In these celestial clusters individuals are merged to form many common elements, including sulfur and calcium.

Silicon is about 60 percent of the earth's crust, and a particular form, quartz, is a major component of sand.

Like glass windows and glass wool, silica is also an important part of the recipe for industrial concrete.

"We have first shown that silicon dioxide produced by supernovae was important enough to contribute to dust all over the universe, including the dust we finally encountered to form our planet," said Haley Gomez, from the University of Cardiff University of Physics and Astronomy.

"Every time we look at a window, walk down the sidewalk or enter a sandy beach, we interact with material from stars that burned millions of years ago."

In 2016, scientists reported that they had traces of lithium – a metal used in the construction of many modern electronics – at the heart of the explosive new phenomenon that happens when a white dwarf star absorbs hydrogen from a nearby sun.

The study was published in the Monthly Announcements of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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