General understanding about supernovae may change to a great extent following an astonishing finding by a group of researchers who study the ocean floor.
Thorough analysis of galactic dust from last 25 million years, that settled on the ocean floor revealed the presence of far lesser amount of plutonium and uranium than their estimated quantities.
The dust is supposed to come from supernovae, and the presence of heavy elements like plutonium and uranium as results of massive explosions would confirm this theory.
A supernova is defined as a giant explosion of a massive star. The brightness of supernovae can match up to the brightness of 10 billion suns. An explosion like this also releases a huge amount of energy.
In other words, Supernovae, as dying stars get converted into heavy neutron stars or black holes following a powerful explosion.
The findings contradict the current theories about supernovae, according to which iron, potassium iodine, lead, silver, plutonium and uranium are created by supernovae, and they are widely distributed in space.
The study was lead by Dr Anton Wallner from Australian National University.
Plutonium-244 with half life of 81 million years was examined by the team as a radioactive clock.
Since every possible source of Plutonium-244 has been exhausted long time back, any new finding of Plutonium-244 should confirm the events of massive explosions, stated the scientists.
Dusts and sediments were collected from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. But at the end of the study, researchers found 100 times less amount of Plutonium-244 than the amount they expected.
“It seems that these heaviest elements may not be formed in standard supernovae, after all,” added Dr Wallner.
The researchers concluded that these latest findings are likely to support the idea of formation of the heavy elements as a result of “rarer and more explosive events”. An example of such event could be the collision of quite a few neutron stars.