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Name: Ferdinand
Status: student
Grade: 9-12
Country: Netherlands
Date: Fall 2012


Question:
To create the building blocks of life a supernova explosion is needed to create the heavier elements. Our solar system has coalesced after the supernova event. Is there anyway of locating the previous supernova? Can we see a shock wave moving away from us? Can we see any remnants of this supernova?


Replies:
To say that the heavier elements needed to form a planet were created in a supernova event is not to say that the event occurred at the location of the planet formation process. That is, supernovae create heavy elements that are dispersed into the galaxy by the supernova explosion. Some of those elements find their way into giant clouds of gas and dust separated from the location of the supernova from which a planetary system might someday form.

Joseph Bernstein


Dear Ferdinand,

Not a chance, unfortunately. Any supernova that occurred more than 5 billion years ago would leave no record this long, as far as I am aware! But it was a very good question.

Sincerely David H. Levy



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