How did heavy elements originate?

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Offline thedoc

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How did heavy elements originate?
« on: 29/04/2012 11:34:01 »
Simon Waters  asked the Naked Scientists:

it is often claimed that "we are stardust", in that the heavier elements (Carbon to Iron mainly) were synthesized in stars, rather than in the big bang - to which the abundance and distribution of Hydrogen and Helium is attributed.

The evidence for this according to Wikipedia is in relative abundance of

As a physics student I remember being rather unimpressed by Hoyle's argument, and the large number of tweak-able parameters in the model used to predict element synthesis from the big bang.

Looking at graph of element (rather than isotope) abundance, it seems to me that the distribution is dominated by size, odd/even-ness of atomic number, and oddities explained by problems in synthesizing or stability of nucleus of any particular element.

How sure are we that we are stardust? It may seem poetic, but I suspect it is equally poetic if our atoms were forged by the very process that made the stars themselves.

The popular view (several skeptics have used this line) is that stars died to synthesize our elements, but wikipedia seems to suggest that solar wind, and stellar mass loss events may dominate, so maybe "stars farted or went on a diet" to make us?


What do you think?
« Last Edit: 29/04/2012 11:34:01 by _system »