Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Universe contains more calcium than expected

07.02.2007
The universe contains one and a half times more calcium than previously assumed. This conclusion was drawn by astronomers of the SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research, after observations with ESA's XMM-Newton X-ray observatory.

This research offers scientists new insights in the formation history of the elemental building blocks of the cosmos in which supernovae play a crucial role.

The iron in our blood, the oxygen we breathe, the calcium in our bones, the silicon in the sand box, all the atoms we are made of are released during the violent final moments of massive stars in the act of dying. These so-called supernova explosions eject newly made chemical elements into space where they become the building blocks for new stars, planets, or even life. However, many questions concerning the very formation of elements and the way they get distributed across the universe still remain open.

According to Jelle de Plaa, space researcher at SRON, many answers can be found in distant clusters of galaxies. "Clusters are in many ways the big cities of the universe", he says.

"They consist of hundreds of galaxies, each containing thousands of millions of stars. The galaxies are embedded in a gigantic cloud of hot gas that fills this cluster like a smog. Due to their enormous size and numbers, clusters contain a large fraction of the total amount of matter in the universe. During the past thousand-millions of years supernova explosions have enriched the surrounding hot gas with heavier elements, like oxygen, silicon and iron."

Using XMM-Newton, De Plaa determined the abundances of oxygen, neon, silicon, sulphur, argon, calcium, iron and nickel in 22 clusters of galaxies. In total he saw the 'pollution' produced by about 100 thousand million supernovae. When he compared the measured amounts of elements in the clusters with theoretical models of supernovae, the calcium abundance measured thanks to XMM-Newton appeared to be one and a half times higher than theoreticians previously assumed.

Dance of death

De Plaa and his colleagues also found that many supernovae in clusters are the result of a dance of death between two stars that revolve around each other. A very compact white dwarf withdraws matter from its unfortunate companion star. The matter forms a layer on the surface of the white dwarf. When the dwarf reaches a certain mass, its core cannot any longer support the weight of the matter and explodes as a supernova.

"Roughly half of the number of supernovae that ever exploded in clusters appear to have exploded this way", says De Plaa. "This is much more than the fraction of this kind of supernovae in our own galaxy, which we estimate to be 15 percent."

The results will be valuable for the scientists who make supernova models. "Until now, supernova experts had to make educated guesses about how a supernova exactly explodes," continues De Plaa. "Because we measure the remains of 100 thousand million supernovae at once, we find more accurate averages than before. This will help the supernova community to learn how white dwarfs die."

Norbert Schartel | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/esaSC/SEMMMC4ENXE_index_0.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy under real ambient pressure conditions
28.06.2017 | National Institutes of Natural Sciences

nachricht New photoacoustic technique detects gases at parts-per-quadrillion level
28.06.2017 | Brown University

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersensitive through quantum entanglement

28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy under real ambient pressure conditions

28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Mice provide insight into genetics of autism spectrum disorders

28.06.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>