Lead author Edo Berger of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) and his colleagues explain that unlike elements such as carbon or iron, gold cannot be created inside of a star.
Rather, it has to be formed as the result of a more cataclysmic event, such as the GRB that astronomers observed back in June. Observations of the GRB provided evidence that gold resulted from the collision of two neutron stars – the dead cores of stars that had previously exploded as supernovae, according to the CfA.
Additionally, scientists observed an unusual glow that lasted at the burst’s location for several days, potentially signifying that a substantial amount of gold and other heavy elements were created as a result of the collision.
“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!” Berger explained. “To paraphrase Carl Sagan, we are all star stuff, and our jewelry is colliding-star stuff.”