A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

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A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

Late this summer, astronomers saw something amazing when they looked up at the sky. They saw stars turn to gold.

For years, scientists had only hypothesized an event like this was possible but, in August, they watched as two neutron stars collided and produced gold, platinum and other rare metals.  In this collision alone, scientists estimated the equivalent of 200 Earth masses of gold and 500 Earth masses of platinum were produced. While this was seen through telescopes across the globe just a few months ago, the stars most likely collided around 130 million years ago – it just took this long for the gravitational ripples from the collision to travel close enough to earth to see it.

Photo credit Robin Dienel/Carnegie Institution for Science

This news has astronomers and geologists excited because it helps us better understand the origin of gold and other precious metals. Now we know, part of the reason there is gold at Stibnite is because of stars colliding!

If you want to read more about this neutron stars and see a video of what scientists captured through their telescopes, check out this great article from NPR.