Neutron Star Collisions: Creation of Heavy Elements and Their Fate

In summary, when neutron stars collide, heavy elements like gold are created. These elements are ejected from the system and become part of the InterStellar Medium, where they can later contribute to the formation of stars and planets. This process is similar to when a star goes supernova and creates heavy elements that are also ejected and incorporated into new celestial bodies.
  • #1
When neutron stars collide, heavy elements, such as gold, are created. Are these elements ejected from the system to be found, say, here on earth? Or do they fall back into the newly created black hole?
 
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  • #2
Short answer: both.
 
  • #3
If they all fell back into the newly created black hole, then these events could not contribute to the concentration of heavy elements in stars and planets. The answer is that a significant quantity of these heavy elements get ejected from the binary neutron star system and get incorporated into the InterStellar Medium (ISM). The estimates from the recently detected neutron star merger GW170817 are that about 0.01 solar masses of heavy elements were ejected. When stars and planets later form from this ISM, these heavy elements are incorporated into these new stars and planets.
 
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  • #4
On a side note, I read that many heavy elements are created when a star goes supernova. Those elements are also ejected from the star.
 

1. What is a neutron star collision?

A neutron star collision occurs when two neutron stars, which are extremely dense remnants of a supernova explosion, merge and collide with each other.

2. How often do neutron star collisions happen?

Neutron star collisions are relatively rare events, occurring about once every 100,000 years in our galaxy.

3. What happens during a neutron star collision?

During a neutron star collision, the two stars spiral towards each other and release a huge amount of energy and radiation. The intense gravitational forces cause the stars to merge and form a larger object.

4. What is the significance of neutron star collisions?

Neutron star collisions are important events in astrophysics as they provide insights into the behavior of matter at extreme densities and temperatures. They also produce heavy elements like gold and platinum, which are not formed in other processes.

5. Can we detect neutron star collisions?

Yes, we can detect neutron star collisions through various methods such as gravitational waves, x-ray and gamma-ray emissions, and optical telescopes. The detection of these events has greatly advanced our understanding of the universe.

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