How many Earth-like planets can material from a supernova make?

We’re made of star stuff, so how many Earth-like planets can one stellar explosion make?

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We were made from the elements caused by a supernova explosion. Image Credit: ESO

We were made from the elements caused by a supernova explosion. Image Credit: ESO

Asked by Shaun Parker

It really depends on how much dust (containing the right ingredients) the supernova contains. Quite recently, observations of supernova remnant Sagittarius A East revealed that this stellar explosion, which occurred 10,000 years ago, has enough dust to make around 7,000 Earths.

It’s been known for a very long time that supernovae eject enormous amounts of material containing elements such as calcium, which can be found in our teeth and the iron in our blood, as well as the material that builds planetary systems and their stars. As astronomer Carl Sagan once said: “we are made of star stuff”.

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