Half Of Your Body’s Atoms Come From Across The Cosmos


    Atoms are the most elemental constituents of matter; particles build everything that is around the world. It is well established that there are ninety naturally occurring elements on Earth, but the advancements in space technology have also concluded that a lot of these elements have their genesis from outer space. Astrophysicists at Northwestern University have discovered that half of the atoms that make up everything are immigrated, intergalactically.

    Studies claim that all matter on Earth, including humans, are made of intergalactic atoms. Photo: Reuters

    This breakthrough has completely given a new dimension to the evolution of galaxies. The research was done via supercomputer simulations, and it was concluded that after supernova explosions such as the Big Bang, an excessive amount of gases are released, which facilitate atoms to be transported from one galaxy to other.

    “It is enough to conclude that humans are space travellers or extragalactic immigrants”, said Daniel-Anglés-Alcázar of the Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics (CIER) at the Northwestern University. He is also credited for leading the study. “It is likely that much of the Milky Way’s matter was in other galaxies before it was kicked out by a powerful wind, travelled across intergalactic space and eventually found its new home in the Milky Way,” added the postdoctoral fellow.

    An artistic depiction of a supernovae explosion, which has all the constituents to make DNA, apart from having elements off the periodic table. Photo: ESO/M Kornmesser

    It was earlier thought that the matter could not be transported by these winds because they weren’t considered to have enough strength to travel across the enormous distance between galaxies. However, the team developed sophisticated simulations which replicated the building of a galaxy from the big bang explosion to the present. The power to carry matter is supplied from the supernovae explosion, which happens when stars reach the end of their life cycles. The discharged gas travels expeditiously and ejects these particles, which are then picked up by the intergalactic winds.

    However, these intergalactic winds don’t contribute to the growth of smaller galaxies. It is speculated that the Milky Way received its constituents from the little Magellan clouds, which is estimated to be at a distance of 160,000 to 200,000 lightyears. Even though these winds are infinitely fast, the transfer of matter, owing to the immense distances, took billions of years to complete. This breakthrough has become crucial as it now can provide a more comprehensive understanding of the big bang and the origin of the universe. Are we nothing more than exotic space dust?

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