Out with a bang.
Collisions involving neutron stars and black holes can also fuse heavy metals like uranium and platinum.
Neutron stars are the remains of supernovas.
Supernovas happen when a star reaches the end of its life cycle and collapses, going out with a literal bang.
When the star’s collapse is not large enough to form into a black hole, a cold core remains — that’s the newly-formed neutron star.
Researchers writing in Astrophysical Journal Letters on October 25 modeled collisions that happened over the past 2.5 billion years to estimate which type of collision has the potential to make the most metals.
The researchers estimate that binary neutron stars — pairs that orbit each other — are likely to create between 2 to 100 times more metal than a neutron star and black hole upon merging.
Because the black holes we’ve observed don’t usually have small masses and high spin rates, it’s harder for a collision to happen, much less create a metal-rich explosion.