Earth’s gold may be much, much rarer than we think

Update — Guys I’m having all kinds of fits with WP and the edit screen all of the sudden. I don’t even know if you can see this update, I can’t — DS

Carl Sagan was fond of saying gold is only made in supernova exploisons. An elegant and relevant way to bring the beauty of cosmology fown to earth. But some Harvard scientists are right, earth’s gold came from a cataclysm rarer than supernova, and every bit as violent if not more so:

Link — Unlike elements like carbon or iron, it cannot be created within a star. Instead, it must be born in a more cataclysmic event – like one that occurred last month known as a short gamma-ray burst (GRB). Observations of this GRB provide evidence that it resulted from the collision of two neutron stars – the dead cores of stars that previously exploded as supernovae. Moreover, a unique glow that persisted for days at the GRB location potentially signifies the creation of substantial amounts of heavy elements – including gold.

“We estimate that the amount of gold produced and ejected during the merger of the two neutron stars may be as large as 10 moon masses – quite a lot of bling!” says lead author Edo Berger of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA).

Berger presented the finding today in a press conference at the CfA in Cambridge, Mass.

A gamma-ray burst is a flash of high-energy light (gamma rays) from an extremely energetic explosion. Most are found in the distant universe. Berger and his colleagues studied GRB 130603B which, at a distance of 3.9 billion light-years from Earth, is one of the nearest bursts seen to date.