Shelly Goethals | June 10, 2015
Timothy Beers, the Notre Dame Professor of Astrophysics, was interviewed on this week's episode of Big Picture Science. Big Picture Science is a nationally syndicated radio talk show produced by the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif. and broadcast nationally on NPR.
Beers spoke about his work using ancient stars in the Milky Way to reconstruct the abundances of chemical elements in the early universe. He noted that elements heavier than lithium, including most of those necessary for life (carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, etc) were not produced in the Big Bang, but rather inside stars as they lived and died.
There has been a long-standing mystery, only recently solved, about how long it took for enough of these elements to be formed to create the conditions for life. "We now know," said Beers, "that the earliest stars in the universe were so efficient at building these key elements that there was no chemical limitation to building life after the first several hundred million years.”
Read more here.