Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Death Of a Star Can Bring Life

Supernovae  have the ability to build the elements for life  and disperse them through out their region of space. New star formations use these heavy elements and organic compounds to form the planets within its accretion disk.This action from ancient explosions of stars  provided most of the elements needed to kick start life on a planet.
When the largest of  stars exhaust their hydrogen fuel, they start producing energy with nuclear reactions that fuse helium into carbon. When they exhaust their helium, they fuse ever heavier elements in their cores until they have iron cores. Iron is the boundary between nuclear fission and fusion reactions, so no additional nuclear reactions will occur in the core. Gravity takes over  and Boom! we have ignition
This release of energy is enough to fuse elements on the periodic table heavier than iron and blast them into space to be recycled into the next generation of stars and planets. Supernovas are the source that create the elements  needed for life on Earth. 

 A property of Earth's organic molecules could be caused by supernova, suggesting that life’s building blocks were created somewhere other than earth. Many of these building blocks, such as amino acids, sugars and other organic molecules, are chiral. Meaning: they come in two identical forms that are mirror opposites.  They are asymmetrical mirror images of each other, so you cannot superimpose them on each other. They are considered right- or left-handed depending on how their atoms are arranged. On Earth, life likes to be left-handed . Left-handedness also seems to prevail throughout the cosmos, according to studies of meteorites. Researchers from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory believe supernovas are the reason.
When a star collapses, it ejects all kinds of particles including electron antineutrinos, which are right-handed. Nuclear astrophysicist like Richard Boyd and his colleagues suggest these particles would interact with right-handed nitrogen atoms inside amino acid molecules.
This interaction would convert the nitrogen into carbon, thereby destroying the righty amino acid molecules. The left-handed nitrogen would be left alone mostly which means left-handed amino acids would be dominant. That could explain their abundance on Earth and elsewhere in the universe.

 Other evidence that points to life  building block can be found by the recent Spitzer and Chandra Space telescope discoveries of PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) being found in Supernovae seem to survive the supernova explosion. These carbon and hydrogen compounds are found in comets, in star-forming regions and planetary disks, which also seem to be where supernovae are found. 

 That should be enough to chew on for awhile.  

Until next time ,
Keep looking up!
Steve T

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