It isn’t the Big Bang or stars like the Sun that gave rise to us. The story is far more… explosive.
At the smallest level, the human body is made up of particles: mostly atomic nuclei and electrons.
Although there are some 90 naturally occurring elements, they originate from a huge variety of places prior to ever arriving on Earth.
The hot Big Bang provides the origin of the lightest elements: hydrogen and helium, which still make up 98% of today’s Universe.
Stars that live, burn, and die provide that other 2%, claiming responsibility for the complex molecules contained in our Universe.
Small stars, like the Sun, fuse light elements into heavier ones, slowly building the high-end of the periodic table by adding neutrons one-at-a-time.
Larger stars end their lives in supernovae, with their cores collapsing and imploding, expelling huge amounts of burned fuel back into the Universe.
Meanwhile, white dwarfs and neutron stars merge and explode, enriching the Universe even further.
Owing to NASA’s Chandra X-ray telescope, we can observe how much of each heavy element comes from recent supernova explosions.
When it comes to the human body, the majority of what makes us up comes from supernovae, not any other source.
The biggest find? Every element required to make DNA is found in the aftermath of exploding stars.
Mostly Mute Monday tells the cosmic story of an astronomical object, image, or phenomenon in pictures, visuals, and no more than 200 words.