Open wide, Exploding Stars #amacrojot #FluorineStars @profmcateer

New-tooth-decay-treatment-could-be-the-end-of-fillings

Being at the dentist this morning reminded me of this new research.

Trillions and trillions of neutrinos fly through your body every second. You don’t notice this, as these particles don’t interact with anything inside you – they just fly on through you, through the Earth, out the other side and back into space. However, new research shows that these mysterious particles may be responsible for producing large amounts of fluorine present in the Universe. In one way or another, stars created almost all the chemical elements. Although fluorine sits between oxygen and neon on the periodic table it is much rarer than either – oxygen is the third most abundant element in the universe, and neon ranks fifth or sixth. In contrast, fluorine doesn’t even make the top 20.

So two astronomers went looking for it. Using the 2.1-meter telescope atop Kitt Peak in Arizona, they searched 79 stars for a nasty gas named hydrogen fluoride (HF). They found it in 51 of their targets, by far the largest number of normal stars in which fluorine has been seen. As they report in the September issue of The Astronomical Journal, the fluorine abundance they measure is so high that neutrinos must have created much of it during supernova explosions. When a massive star explodes, it unleashes 1058 neutrinos that are so energetic a few knock a proton or neutron off some of the star’s many neon nuclei, producing fluorine. Other processes also create fluorine, but not enough to explain quite so much.

If this research is confirmed with a follow up study, you can thank particles that normally don’t do anything for the cavities you never got.

 

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12 comments on “Open wide, Exploding Stars #amacrojot #FluorineStars @profmcateer

  1. This is a very interesting article mentioning fluorine. When I go to the dentist I usually am worried about having cavities. Thanks to fluorine I guess I haven’t really gotten one in my adulthood.

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  2. Its amazing how small all particles, yet they do so much. It has me thinking about space because where huge yet small in comparison to Jupiter or the Sun but then there’s even smaller objects that make up us.

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  3. This was something that i was never aware of, especially the relation to fluorine as well as the trillions and trillions of neutrinos. It is something that is always good to be aware of, since it can really be correlated to day to day life.

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  4. Reading this makes me feel a little bit wiser and can share this with my dentist next time i go! Until he asks for the details is when I won’t feel as smart.

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  5. Whoa, you think of some crazy things while you’re at the dentist. My primary concern is generally whether or not they’re going to stick me with a needle. Although, I have to admit, thinking of exploding stars is so much cooler.

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  6. I think two things are very interesting here:
    – The fact that we have trillions of neutrino flying through us that don’t interact with anything and don’t even know they are there
    -Also the abundant supply of fluoride in space/air that we are just finding out about now!

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  7. Who would’ve thought, fluorine in our mouths now fluorine in the stars…I never would have thought when a star explodes, it would unleash so many neutrinos to produce fluorine. Brushing my teeth will be a different experience after reading about fluorine in the stars.

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