Plutonium dating

First, if supernovae are a major contributor to actinide formation, then there should be an average amount of actinide production per explosion.

Stars follow a predictable life, so the researchers can estimate how many stars went kaboom in time to contribute material to the formation of our Solar System.

Once this was understood, scientists were left wondering where the remaining 80 odd elements that are heavier than iron came from.

On the other hand, the researchers are also able to estimate the number of neutron star mergers that could contribute material to the formation of the Solar System.The star starts turning helium into heavier elements at an increasingly feverish rate.The end, no matter how hot and heavy the star, comes when the star’s core is made of iron.Here the numbers seem to work out: the number of mergers that could have contributed to our early Solar System (a number based on how often these things seem to occur) produces an actinide abundance that brackets the one estimated from asteroids. It seems that nearly half the plutonium in the Solar System came from a single neutron star merger.That is fascinating: with such low numbers of neutron star mergers contributing to actinide abundance, the variation from solar system to solar system must be huge.

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These explosions can create many of the elements heavier than iron.

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