Gold-rich Stars Came from Ancient Galaxies

Gold-rich Stars Came from Ancient Galaxies

Stars are the reason our planet contains a diverse cohort of elements. Most elements heavier than iron came about from the rapid neutron-capture process (r-process) in the Milky Way, including “jewelry store elements” such as gold and platinum.

Now, an international research team, led by Yutaka Hirai from Tohoku University and the University of Notre Dame, have discovered the birthplace of the stars that produced some of these heavier elements. Most gold-rich stars, according to the research, formed over 10 billion years ago in small, building-block galaxies—known as progenitor galaxies—of the Milky Way.

Distribution of stars and gas in a Milky Way formation simulation used in this study. Yellow dots represent stars, and diffuse clouds with blue to white depict gas.

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