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Our world is full of chemicals that shouldn't exist.
Lighter elements, like carbon and oxygen and helium, exist because of intense fusion energies crushing protons together inside stars. But elements from cobalt to nickel to copper, up through iodine and xenon, and including uranium and plutonium, are just too heavy to be produced by stellar fusion. Even the core of the biggest, brightest sun isn't hot and pressurized enough to make anything heavier than iron.
Alignment - Earth - Sun - Spring - Equinox
An annual celestial alignment between Earth and the sun known as the spring equinox announces that the seasons are shifting and spring is on the way.
The classic story was that supernovae — the explosions that tear some stars apart at the end of their lives — are the culprit. Those explosions should briefly reach energies intense enough to create the heavier elements. The dominant theory for how this happens is turbulence. As the supernova tosses material into the universe, the theory goes, ripples of turbulence pass through its winds, briefly compressing outflung stellar material with enough force to slam even fusion-resistant iron atoms into other atoms and form heavier elements.
Fluid - Dynamics - Model
But a new fluid dynamics model suggests that this is all wrong.
"In order to initiate this process we need to have some sort of excess of energy," said study lead author Snezhana Abarzhi, a materials scientist at the University of Western Australia in Perth. "People have believed for many years that this sort of excess might be created by violent, fast processes, which might essentially be turbulent processes," she told Live Science.
Abarzhi - Co-authors - Model - Fluids - Supernova
But Abarzhi and her co-authors developed a model of the fluids in a supernova that suggest something else — something smaller — might be going on. They presented their findings earlier this month in Boston, at the American Physical Society...
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