Gold is one of history’s most famous and important metals and has been the basis for monetary systems for thousands of years. This influential metal that has sculpted our history may not even be from our planet. Researchers have recently found new evidence that gold actually comes from the collisions of dead neutron stars. While this discovery may do little as a price mover for this precious metal, it may give us an insight into just how rare gold is [for more commodity news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
Eyes on the Sky
Astronomers have long known that fusion reactions in the cores of stars create elements such as carbon and oxygen, the building blocks of our existence, but they also wondered if these stars could form something heavier. After a decade of searching the skies, Edo Berger, the lead researcher at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, announced his team has captured images of the explosions that create gold.
When two massive stars with collapsed cores, which are quite rare, crash into each other, the violent merger is followed by an odd glow that lasted days around the crash site. Infrared light in the glow has led researchers to believe there are heavy metals, such as gold, produced from the collision.
Looking Beyond Earth for Metal
There is still much research to be done to prove this hypothesis on the origins of gold, but there are already a number of metals that researches believe come from beyond our world:
- Platinum: One of the most expensive exchange-traded metals on the market has been gaining in popularity in recent years thanks to its wide variety of uses. Platinum is a very popular metal for use in autocatalysts, which are products that help carmakers clamp down on harmful emissions and are required in most countries for all cars [see also What South Africa Means To The Platinum Market].
- Cobalt: While some consider it to be an industrial metal, others place cobalt under the rare earth/strategic metals umbrella. Applications of this metal include aircraft engines, drill bits, magnets, batteries, pigmentation, orthopedic implants, and even gamma rays.
- Manganese: Manganese is a brittle, silvery-white, metallic element that was discovered in 1774. This metal is best known for its uses in the steel industry for creating alloys; manganese can improve forging qualities, strength, stiffness, and enhance wear resistance as well.
- Nickel: One of the oldest known metals with uses tracing back more than 5,000 years, nickel is often confused with silver due to its white shine, but the metal has different properties in a few key areas. One of the most important differences is that nickel is one of only a handful of elements that remain ferromagnetic in moderate temperatures, making it a popular choice for magnets.
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.