Primordial Nucleosynthesis: The universe's first few minutes played a crucial role in the formation of light elements like hydrogen, helium, and small traces of lithium and beryllium
Stellar Fusion: Elements up to iron on the periodic table are primarily formed through stellar fusion. Stars are like cosmic alchemists, fusing hydrogen into helium, and eventually creating heavier elements through this process.
Supernova Nucleosynthesis: Elements beyond iron are created during supernova explosions. The extreme heat and pressure in a supernova can forge elements like gold, silver, and uranium in a matter of seconds.
Rapid Neutron Capture: Elements like lead and bismuth are formed through a process called rapid neutron capture, or the r-process. This occurs in the intense environment of a supernova's neutron flux.
Cosmic Ray Spallation: Some lighter elements, such as lithium, beryllium, and boron, are produced through cosmic ray spallation. High-energy cosmic rays collide with existing atomic nuclei, creating these elements.
image credit-semantic scholer
S-Process in Stars: The s-process, or slow neutron capture, is responsible for producing elements like strontium, barium, and lead in the cores of ageing, low-mass stars.
image credit-AAS Nova
Neutron Star Mergers: The collision of neutron stars is another source of heavy elements like gold and platinum. These cataclysmic events generate intense gravitational forces and extreme temperatures, resulting in the synthesis of rare elements.
Interstellar Dust Grains: Complex organic molecules and ices can form on the surfaces of interstellar dust grains. This process contributes to the organic chemistry that underlies life on Earth.
Radioactive Decay: Some elements, such as radium and polonium, are not stable and decay over time. They can be found as natural byproducts of the decay of heavier radioactive elements in the Earth's crust.
Nuclear Reactions in Cosmic Rays: Cosmic rays, high-energy particles from space, can initiate nuclear reactions in the Earth's atmosphere, leading to the production of isotopes like carbon-14, which is crucial for radiocarbon dating.