We’re All Made of ‘Stuff’ That Came From Far Across the Universe
The atoms that make up your body have travelled across the cosmos.
A new study has revealed that half of the atoms that make up our bodies have come from beyond the galaxy.
One of legendary astronomer Carl Sagan’s most famous quotes states:
“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.”
Now according to the results of a new computer simulation, the atoms that make up our bodies not only came from the core of a star, but from a star that was situated in a distant galaxy.
Large galaxies such as our own Milky Way, scientists say, amass much of their matter from neighboring star clusters up to one million light years away.
“We did not realise how much of the mass in today’s Milky Way-like galaxies was actually ‘stolen’ from the winds of other galaxies,” said study co-author Claude-Andre Faucher-Giguere.
These particles originate within supernovae (exploding stars) and are sent hurtling through the cosmos by galactic winds – streams of charged particles that are powered by these explosions.
Previously it was believed that these winds were insufficient to send large amounts of particles across the vast distances between neighboring galaxies, but now it seems that the forces involved are actually must stronger than anyone had realized.
The transfer of matter from one galaxy to another however is certainly not a quick process with scientists estimating that it can take anywhere from several hundred million to two billion years.
That’s a long time for the atoms in your body to have been floating through space.
Image Credit: NASA/ESA/ESO