“The atoms of our bodies are traceable to stars that manufactured them in their cores and exploded these enriched ingredients across our galaxy, billions of years ago. For this reason, we are biologically connected to every other living thing in the world. We are chemically connected to all molecules on Earth. And we are atomically connected to all atoms in the universe. We are not figuratively, but literally stardust.” -Neil deGrasse Tyson
Well guess half of these stardust that comprise us came from a long way—extragalactic to be exact.
A new simulation of the universe shows that we are actually made of atoms from different parts of the universe and not just from our own milky way.
“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,” says Professor Claude-André Faucher-Giguère from the Northwestern University in Illinois, and author of the study, published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
When stars die, they either collapse into an extremely dense white dwarf or explode with dramatic fashion into a supernova. The latter spews out matter all around it at 10% of the speed of light, and those materials are carried by galactic winds everywhere. However, scientists have previously theorized that winds aren’t powerful enough to transport matter across galaxies--or so they thought.
A 3D simulation of the movement of matter in the universe from the big bang until today was created by the researchers of Feedback In Realistic Environments (FIRE). This showed that matter carried by galactic winds actually flows from smaller galaxies to bigger galaxies where those matter forms other stars. They also found that these winds carried 50 percent of the matter found in our galaxy today.
“Galactic winds as a mode of transfer has been underappreciated,” says Jessica Werk at the University of Washington in Seattle, who’s not affiliated with the study. “Daniel Anglés-Alcázar uses one of the best simulations to do a detailed particle tracking analysis and really laid it all out for us.”
"Our origins are much less local than we previously thought," said co-author Faucher-Giguère. "This study gives us a sense of how things around us are connected to distant objects in the sky."
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