Primordial Black Holes Account for Earth’s Heavy Metals, May Be

The ubiquity of black holes—of all types—in tens of billions of them in galaxies is responsible for the enigmatic ‘dark matter’ that constitutes a significant part of our Universe. Several earlier theories have suggested so and observations have confirmed them.  But what have increasingly intrigued researchers, cosmologists, and astrophysicists, for long is the mysterious role the black holes might have in the existence of several earth’s heavy metals such as gold, platinum, and uranium.

A new theory, compelling enough, put forth by physicists at University of California (UC), Los Angeles provides insight into how primordial black holes, a type of black hole, may have formed shortly after the Big Bang. Two papers detailing their breakthrough were recently published in the journal Physical Review Letters.

First Black Holes Formed Within Second after the Big Bang Could Underlie Dark Matter

Alexander Kusenko, a professor of physics, and Eric Cotner, graduate student at UC, Los Angeles suggested that primordial black holes may have formed just seconds after the Big Bang. Earlier theories by astronomers have reiterated on theories underpinning the formation of massive black holes found at the center of our galaxies. At the very start of the universe, the researchers have proposed that when the universe began rapidly expanding, uniform energy fields began to separate into small clumps, which later merged into numerous black holes triggered by gravity effects. Primordial black holes could be searched using the methods of astronomical observations, one of the papers proposed.

Neutron Star-Black Hole Interaction Supposedly Behind Formation of Gold, Silver, Platinum in Galaxies

In a different study, Kusenko and another UCLA researcher, and George Fuller, along with a professor at UC, San Diego, suggested that primordial black holes are triggering the production of useful heavy metals, and the process is continuous. The process starts with the collision of these holes with a neutron star, causing it to shrink, causing a number of fragments of neutron-rich materials to fly off. These fragments may be the site for the production of gold, platinum, and uranium in nearby galaxies, the theory suggests. The work also sheds some light explaining the mystery behind the observed lack of neutron stars in the center of the Milky Way galaxy. The neutron stars-black holes interaction supposedly takes 10,000 years.

This year, in the coming months, Kusenko along his colleagues will team up with scientists at Princeton University used the results from computer simulations and compare them with the formation of heavy metals in other galaxies present in the surroundings.