From whence cometh our strength

From whence cometh our strength.jpg

The astronomers' claim in the documentary Nostalgia for the Light (which I wrote about here), the claim that the elemental calcium in our bones comes from the stars, intriqued me and sent me looking for more information. I found this summary report on a paper published in Nature in 2010 (Perets HB, et al. A faint type of supernova from a white dwarf with a helium-rich companion. Nature. 2010;465:322-325.) Since I don’t have a subscription to Nature and probably wouldn’t understand the paper even if I had access to it, the summary report will suffice.

This is my ever so brief summary of the report by Robert Sanders.

Astronomers have so far, at least at the time of the paper’s writing, found eight calcium-rich supernova, including supernova (SN) 2005E, discovered by a team from Berkeley and described in the paper. They calculate that when 2005E exploded half of its mass was calcium. Further calculations suggest that if this is repeated with other supernova even a couple times every 100 years, enough calcium is produced for life on earth. Two of the study authors interviewed for the report, Filippenko and Li, said that robotic telescopes are “scanning distant galaxies every night in search of new supernovae....”

Tonight I’m going to stand in my backyard, supported by a strong skeleton of calcium-rich bone, look up into the starry sky and give thanks.