We all know gold is mined from the ground. But, have you ever wondered how it got there? Surprisingly, gold is most likely from outer space – formed in the hearts of dying stars and propelled across the galaxy by supernova explosions before crashing into primordial Earth almost 4 billion years ago.
The idea of “space gold” may not be as far-fetched as it sounds. Precious metals have been observed in extraterrestrial objects numerous times. Plus, the idea that gold has always been on earth doesn’t really mesh with the leading theories about the planet’s formation.
Billions of years ago, the earth started as a shifting, molten mass drifting through the cosmos. In this state of fluidity and extreme heat, the process of planetary differentiation would have caused high-density elements (such as gold and other precious metals) to drift into the earth’s core. If gold were native to earth, it all would have drifted closer to the earth’s core and away from its crust – thousands of miles out of reach for even the deepest mines. Following that logic, the only reason gold could be so close to earth’s surface is because it came from outside the planet, rather than from within it.
So, if gold is from outer space, how did it get there? Believe it or not, the particle physics explaining the formation of extraterrestrial gold are pretty straightforward. Below, our infographic explains the process.