Up to half of the calcium in the universe, including our bones and teeth, occurred after the explosion of a "calcium-rich supernova". This is the conclusion reached by a group of researchers from 15 countries.
The theory of stellar emissions of huge amounts of calcium was possible to form using the representation of deep space in X-ray and infrared light ranges. The study has been able to fill many gaps in understanding the death of stars.
Scientists hypothesise that calcium-rich supernovae are initially compact stars that quickly lose mass at the end of their life cycle, emitting an outer layer of gas, which is then impacted by exploding materials.
“These events are so rare that we had no idea where the calcium-rich supernovae came from”, said astrophysicist Wynne Jacobson-Galan of Northwestern University.
Amateur astronomer Joel Shepard was the first to spot supernova SN 2019ehk, located in the spiral galaxy Messier 100 about 55 million light years from Earth. Subsequently, most large telescopes began to follow it.
“By observing what happens to a star before it reaches a critical point, we have looked into a previously unexplored area, opening up new avenues for research”, said Jacobson-Galan.
Scientists have long sought to look at the "calcium" stars, but it seemed difficult. Even Hubble missed SN 2019ehk. Before its explosion, physicists had only indirect information about which stars can be rich in calcium and which are not.
What astronomers did not expect was the brightness of the X-rays that SN 2019ehk emitted. The scientists realised that they were looking at a stream of high-energy X-rays emanating from the star and hitting the outer shell of the gas. This provided a clue as to what kind of substance she was dropping. Physical processes in the star led to a nuclear reaction that produced calcium.
“The largest stars create small amounts of calcium over the course of their lives, but incidents like SN 2019ehk appear to be responsible for the enormous amounts of calcium that explode into interstellar space within galaxies,” explained astronomer Regis Cartier of National Optical Infrared Astronomical Research Laboratory (NOIRLab) in the USA. "Ultimately, this calcium gets into the formation of planetary systems, and in the case of the Earth, into our bodies!"
According to scientists, in this way calcium enters the forming planetary systems and developing organisms. This is exactly what happened on Earth.
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