At the dawn of the Milky Way, hypernova stars produced gold and platinum

Australian scientists have studied the star SMSS 2003-1142. It is a red giant located in a galactic halo at 7,500

light years from Earth.The star turned out to be poor in elements heavier than hydrogen and helium. But with an overall low metallicity, the star is enriched with elements such as zinc, barium, europium, and thorium, which are produced during the r-process.

The r-process itself, or the fast process of neutron capture, is the process of the formation of heavier nuclei from lighter ones by sequentially capturing neutrons in the course of reactions.

In the r-process, atomic nuclei quickly captureneutrons, many heavy elements are formed. It is assumed that the process takes place mainly during the mergers of neutron stars. However, such mergers alone do not explain the observed picture of the abundance of elements in low-metallicity stars. Scientists suggest that other conditions must exist in the Universe for the r-process to occur.

The analysis showed that the ratio of elements inthe star SMSS 2003-1142 is consistent with the hypernova explosion model. The new study confirms the hypothesis that hypernovae were important sources of elements for the r-process in the very early stages of the formation of galaxies, including the Milky Way.

Recall that a hypernova is an explosion of a supermassivestars after the collapse of its core; the collapse of the nucleus occurs after it runs out of fuel to support thermonuclear reactions. In fact, this is a very large supernova.

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