For a long time, no one knew how “heavy metals” formed—or showed up on Earth. Now some new evidence finally points the way to an answer.
That ring on your finger made of platinum or gold contains a secret that has been at the center of a cosmic mystery.
Scientists have been combing the galaxy to figure out where these so-called “heavy elements” come from.
Lighter elements—everything from helium, with its two protons per atom, on up to iron, which has 26 protons in each nucleus—are better understood.
Most of these form inside stars. But our knowledge gets fuzzy after iron.
Gold, which has 79 protons in each atom, can’t be made that way. The same goes for platinum, xenon, radon and many rare Earth elem