The forge of elements


Many of the elements necessary for life are creating in exploding stars.


An X-ray image of the supernova remnant Cassiopeia A shows different elements created in the explosion: silicon (red), sulfur (yellow), calcium (green) and iron (purple).
An X-ray image of the supernova remnant Cassiopeia A shows different elements created in the explosion: silicon (red), sulfur (yellow), calcium (green) and iron (purple).
NASA/CXC/SAO

The supernova remnant Cassiopeia A is the aftermath of a stellar explosion. These explosions – and other astronomical cataclysms such as neutron-star collisions – are responsible for creating the elements that are essential for life in the universe.

The image above, taken by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, shows the location of different elements in the remains of the explosion: silicon (red), sulfur (yellow), calcium (green) and iron (purple). Each of these elements produces X-rays within narrow energy ranges, allowing maps of their location to be created. The blast wave from the explosion is seen as the blue outer ring.

Curated content from the editorial staff at Cosmos Magazine.
Latest Stories
MoreMore Articles