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Przybylski's Star

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#1 Ohmless


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Posted 09 November 2019 - 04:05 AM

Just learned tonight that apparently what I was taught in my chemistry/physics undergrad classes was inaccurate in that transuranic elements can exist in nature.  I was told that Uranium was the heaviest element in nature at both the University of Michigan and at Michigan State University back in the 1990's.








https://ui.adsabs.ha.....149W/abstract and "Intelligent Life in the Universe" by I. S. Schklovskii and Carl Sagan, 1966 both propose the possibility that an alien civilization could have used their star as a nuclear dumping ground or put heavy artificial elements into their star as a marker that they have civilized life in that system. 


There is also the odd possibility that the short lived half life elements are degradation products from heavy stable elements that we haven't been able to synthesize on Earth yet.


Another bizarre thing about this class of star is that they are very low in Iron.  This makes the case that the heavy elements came from a supernova or a neutron star less likely.




Please be respectful in this discussion so it won't get shut down. There is no proof that this is or isn't a sign of an alien civilization, just different hypothesized origins for the spectroscopic findings from a bizarre star.  There are plenty of youtube videos about this mystery object for those that are interested.

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#2 Brett Waller

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Posted 09 November 2019 - 06:57 AM

Naturally-occurring, transuranic elements were predicted in the 1950's and were found at several locations in the 1.7 billion year old Oklo reactor in Gabon in the early 1970's, which was the subject of several articles in Scientific American and elsewhere.  It was common knowledge in the Geophysical Sciences Department at Old Dominion University when I studied there in the early 1980's, although my General Chemistry text had the same erroneous statement about trans-Uranic elements not occurring in nature, and also that Technetium, the lightest element with all its isotopes radioactive, was not known from nature. In fact, Technetium also was known from the Oklo reactor and had been identified in the spectra of Red Giants, and I seem to recall SBIG having an example of that on their web page as part of their advertising for their self-guided spectrograph. So, the moral of the story is to always take everything with a grain of salt and evaluate the evidence for yourself.


Thanks for the interesting references on Przybylski's Star. I'm looking forward to reading them.



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#3 DaveC2042


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Posted 09 November 2019 - 04:43 PM


I always thought the absence of trans-uranic elements and Technetium was simply due to the short half-lives of all the isotopes, and the absence of a decay path from something abundant. I didn't think it was suggested that they weren't being created.

But it's a long time since I studied it.

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