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Two neutron stars violently collide—potentially the sourse of all heavy elements in the universe, including gold. (Dana Berry, SkyWorks Digital, Inc.)

All the Gold in the Universe Could Come From the Collisions of Neutron Stars

When two stars recently collided, astronomers landed on a new theory about where gold and other heavy elements originate

Over the next few years, the Harvard-Smithsonian team and others will continue searching for neutron star collisions so further data can be collected and analyzed. Already, though, having such a rare event (in the Milky Way, they happen once roughly every 100,000 years) occur at a distance close enough for these sorts of observations is quite fortuitous. “I've spent the last decade of my life trying to address the question of gamma-ray bursts, painstakingly collecting evidence and waiting for that one big event,” Berger says. “It’s so satisfying to finally get that evidence that can tell us what’s going on in a more definitive way.”


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