Unlocking the Secrets of Gold-Rich Stars in the Milky Way: Researchers Use Supercomputer Simulation to Understand Formation

Neutron star mergers are sites where heavy metals
Neutron star mergers are sites where heavy metals, like gold, are synthesized, Credit: Wikimedia/University of Warwick/Mark Garlick

All that glitters is not gold, but some that twinkle are! Some stars contain heavy metals like gold and platinum. Hundreds of these stars are present in the Milky Way. However, questions about where, when, and how these stars were formed always boggled scientists. The answers to these questions have been recently found in a computer simulation. The simulation was produced using the ATERUI II supercomputer in the Center for Computational Science at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan.

 

A team of researchers from the University of Notre Dame and Tohoku University interpreted the data from these simulations to shed light on how these stars were formed. According to the simulation, small progenitor galaxies merged to form the Milky Way as it is today. In these progenitor galaxies, neutron stars fused. Gold and platinum are almost always formed during a merger between neutron stars. This is how “gold-rich” stars formed in the early Milky Way.

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