This weekend Hollywood stars will orbit around each other on the red carpet for the Golden Globe Awards. Winners will walk away with trophies that have literal golden globes, while everyone else will walk away drunk. Some critics see these globes as meaningless, you have the choice to see them as a statistical anomaly: The Golden Globes don’t exist in the universe.
Gold is unique as it can exist as an element, metal, and mineral. While gold may be found in the small amounts in the inner core of some planets, like Earth, no planets are actually globes of gold. And unlike carbon or iron, it is not created within a star.
Instead, gold is created when two neutron stars collide and explode. In June 2013, Harvard researchers discovered that 3.9 billion light-years away neutron stars 1.5 times the mass of the sun rammed into each other, resulting in an explosion that released a massive amount of gamma-rays. They believe this gamma-ray burst resulted in a bombardment of heavy elements — including gold.
“By combining the estimated gold produced by a single short gamma-ray burst with the number of such explosions that have occurred over the age of the universe,” the researchers said in a statement, “all the gold in the cosmos might have come from gamma-ray bursts.”
While there are no planets that are the astronomical embodiment of Goldmember, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t any gold inside of the planet. Consider Earth which has an outer core mostly made of iron and nickel, but which also has traces of other elements like gold. Scientists believe that when molten iron sank and became a core during the Earth’s formation, it brought down precious elements — so much so that University of Bristol researchers say there are enough precious metals in the core to cover all of Earth in a four meter thick layer.
But because of the waves of meteorites that hit Earth 3.8 to 41. billion years ago carrying all that gold from the gamma ray burst, there was so much gold on Earth that it wasn’t all pulled down to the core.
“The removal of gold to the core should leave the outer portion of Earth bereft of bling,” said the University of Bristol researchers in a statement. “However, precious metals are tens to thousands of times more abundant in Earth’s silicate mantle than anticipated.”
Planets result from a massive acceleration of stars and elementally derived dust, which means that all planets consist of many materials. The chance that a golden globe exists out there is as likely as Hacksaw Ridge walking away with Best Drama — it’s an interesting idea, but nobody is actually going to see that.