Chemical Abundances, Time, our Sun
As I understand it, all elements heavier than He were formed in
various supernova and other explosions of dying stars. If our solar system
is about 4.6 billion years old, and the universe is about 15 billion years
old, then that would mean that other stars would have lived and died within
a distance that would allow their heavier elements to travel to our area of
the universe, and thus be incorporated into our solar system. But it hardly
seems like a long enough time, as at best only two generations of stars
could roughly, have lived and died and spewed their elements to be incorporated
when our sun and planets formed. It seems that even travelling at relativistic
velocities, matter from other dying stars would only have a few billion years
to travel, and thus must have been close to our location. I am not wording this
well, but it just seems like there was not enough time for numerous stars to
have lived and died to give us enough heavier elements to form the planets.
Thank you for your comment. I disagree; I think there was plenty of time.
David H. Levy
It always amazes me that people think that they understand and visualize
great spans of time when there is probably no one who can conceptualize
a million years, let alone a billion years. Ten billion years is a huge
amount of time and obviously plenty for gravity to act on the heavy
elements in developing solar systems. Here we are!
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Update: June 2012