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Magnetic waves may make human life possible

Magnetic waves may make human life possible

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by David Appell, Phys.org

The creator’s view of neutron stars colliding, generating gravitational waves and resulting in a kilonova. Credit: Mark Garlick, University of Warwick, from Wikipedia licensed under CC BY 4.0.

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A view of the creator of neutron stars colliding, generating gravitational waves and resulting in a kilonova. Credit: Mark Garlick, University of Warwick, from Wikipedia licensed under CC BY 4.0.

Could it be that human existence is based on gravitational waves? Some important components of our biological structure may come from stellar events that occur because gravitational waves are present, a research team led by John R. Ellis of Kings College London suggests.

In particular, iodine and bromine are found on Earth as a result of certain nuclear reactions that occur when neutron stars collide. On the other hand, pairs of neutron stars vibrate and collide due to the release of their energy in the form of gravitational waves. Thus there may be a direct link from the presence of magnetic waves to the presence of mammals.

Humans are mostly made of hydrogen, carbon and oxygen, with many other sample elements. (There are 20 elements essential to human life.) Those with atomic numbers less than 35 are produced in the interstellar wind that has exhausted its nuclear fuel and fallen inward. This collapse results in an explosion that releases its atoms throughout the universe.

But two parts are provided by another meaniodine, which is necessary for important hormones produced by the thyroid, and bromine, which is used to create collagen scaffolds in the development of cells and structures.

Thorium and uranium have been indirectly important for human life, as their radioactive decay inside the Earth heats the lithosphere and allows tectonic activity. The movement of tectonic plates removes and adds carbon to the surface of the planet, which itself is removed from the atmosphere by water reacting with carbon dioxide and silicates, avoiding the possibility of a runaway greenhouse effect such as happened on Venus.

About half of the heavy elemental atoms in the world (heavier than iron) are produced by what is known as the “r-process” a rapid neutron capture process. The reaction occurs when the heavy nucleus of an atom captures a sequence of free neutrons before the nucleus has a chance to decay (usually by beta decay).

With a sufficient number of free neutrons, numbering about 1024 per cubic centimeter, and at high temperatures, about a billion Kelvin, neutrons are absorbed and heavy isotopes of the element are formed.

Ellis and his colleagues estimate that the process gives us 96% of the mass of 127I on Earth, an isotope important for human life, and the majority of the mass of bromine and gadolinium throughout the Earth, as well as all of the Earth’s bathorium and uranium and a fraction of molybdenum and cadmium.

Where does the procedure take place? Another possibility is material ejected during supernova explosions, which are the explosions of stars near the end of their nuclear lives. But there is long-standing uncertainty in the detailed physics of this process.

Another event where this process occurs is the merger of two neutron stars, called a kilonova. Such encounters are directly caused by gravitational waves.

As binary pairs approach each other over hundreds of millions of years, they generate enormous amounts of energy in the form of gravitational waves near the end. In fact, it was just such an event that produced the gravitational wave event GW170817 detected in 2017 at the LIGO and Virga Gravitational wave observatories in the United States. The amount of energy can be trillions of watts in the last few milliseconds.

Kilonovae explosions are important sites of r activity, since neutron stars are made entirely of neutrons. In addition to the gravitational wave images, other detectors saw GW170817 in the electromagnetic spectrum, and found clear evidence of material being created and ejected from the merger.

The paper concludes that the iodine necessary for human life “may be produced by the process of collisions of neutron stars caused by the emission of gravitational waves, together with other important elements heavy ones.” The group suggests searching 129It is in the lunar regolith, uncontaminated by man-made sources.

“Neutron star collisions happen because binary systems lose energy by emitting gravitational waves,” said Ellis, “so these fundamental physics phenomena may make human life possible. “

Their paper, “Do we owe our existence to gravitational waves?,” is available at arXivfirst print server.

Additional information:
John Ellis et al, Do we live because of gravitational waves?, arXiv (2024). DOI: 10.48550/arxiv.2402.03593

Newspaper articles:
arXiv

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